Senden’s Victory Is Quite a Trip
John Senden grinned and hugged his coach. He was elated and relieved and, most important, a winner on the PGA Tour.
The Australian birdied the 17th hole and saved par on No. 18 to hold off J.P. Hayes and win the John Deere Classic on Sunday, earning his first PGA Tour victory and qualifying for the British Open.
Making his 139th tour start, Senden shot a three-under-par 68 to finish at 19-under 265 and beat Hayes (65) by a stroke.
“It was a feeling of relief that you can get it done,” Senden said.
Hayes nearly took it away from him.
Seeking his third tour victory and second in the Deere Classic, Hayes put himself in position for an eagle and the lead on the 17th hole but settled for a birdie instead. He drove his tee shot 335 yards and hit a five-iron within six feet. His eagle putt rolled to the right of the cup. After a tap-in, he was momentarily tied for the lead.
But Senden took the lead when he birdied the 17th, tapping in from two feet.
Hayes’ second shot on No. 18 landed in a bunker to the right of the green, but his next one rolled four feet past the pin. He knocked in the short putt to save par and remain within a stroke.
Things got interesting when Senden’s second shot on No. 18 landed in the same bunker.
He thought the ball would stay on the green, but he wasn’t upset. Senden saw a good angle, and his chip shot landed five inches from the hole for an easy tap-in for par.
“My lie in the bunker was a beautiful lie,” he said. “An uphill lie, and all I had to do was splash it out and it was going to track down to the hole.... I had to be positive. Knocking that last putt in was fantastic.”
Alex Cejka (67) and Heath Slocum (68) tied for third at 16 under.