By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- It wasn't the kind of start John Senden was hoping for in Saturday's third round of the BMW Championship. Through five holes, he was 3 over and falling down the leaderboard.
But he got back on track, and burned up the back nine with four birdies, eventually shooting a 1-under 70 that leaves him at 9 under and in solo second, four shots behind Justin Rose.
"Disappointing start to the day," the Australian said. "But I just wanted to hang around. I knew even if I dropped a couple shots, as I did early, I didn't really lose that much ground. I had a couple shots up my sleeve."
And now he's got a real chance to move into the top 30 in FedExCup points and play in next week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Senden came into the week 55th in points but is currently projected to eighth if he can maintain his position in Sunday's final round.
And even though he trails Rose by a significant margin, he's not ready to wave off his chances of winning his first TOUR event in five years. A win might also boost his chances to make the International team for this year's Presidents Cup.
"I feel like I'm going to go out there with the idea of shooting a good score," Senden said. "Justin Rose is in great control, and who knows what could happen. It's a funny game. Anything could happen Sunday afternoon."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- It's been more than five years since John Senden produced his only PGA TOUR victory, that coming in the 2006 John Deere Classic.
If he wants any shot to make the International team for this year's Presidents Cup in his native Australia, he'll need to break that drought.
Through 36 holes, he's at least given himself a chance. Senden's second-round 66 on Friday at the BMW Championship left him at 8 under for the tournament, just three shots off the pace held by co-leaders Mark Wilson and Justin Rose.
"I definitely have to probably win the golf tournament to make the International team," Senden said after Friday's round.
If that sounds a bit ambiguous, that's because there's no guarantee that a win at Cog Hill would elevate Senden high enough in the Official World Golf Ranking to make the top 10 who automatically qualify for Greg Norman’s International team after this week.
Senden currently ranks 23rd on the list of International team hopefuls, so he'd have to climb past a lot of players -- and the rankings won't become official until Sunday. It may be a long shot, but winning is his only shot.
"It would be fantastic," Senden said when asked what it would mean to make the team and compete back home. "It's one of my dreams. I've been thinking about it for two years now and trying to work as hard as I can to get there.
"I believe that I would be a good member of the team. I'm a consistent player, love playing at home. I've done well in Australia. Royal Melbourne is one of my favorite golf courses."
Senden also has a shorter-term goal of playing his way into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. He’s 55th in points but projected to move to 24th, which would be good enough to make East Lake.
Two years ago at the BMW Championship, Senden made the top 30 on the number in a wild finish in which he didn’t know for sure he had made it until Brandt Snedeker’s four-putt on the 72nd hole.
“We were all kind of bleeding coming down the stretch,” Senden recalled, “but we eventually made it right on the 30. That was better than 31.”
Consistency has been Senden's calling card this year. In the 17 cuts that he's made on the PGA TOUR this season, he's finished between 11 and 25 on the leaderboard 10 times. He also has two top-10 finishes -- at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and two weeks later at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
"I think I've played consistently well, which you've probably seen by the results," Senden said. "But I feel like I've still got a little bit left in the bag. I feel like I'm improving."
Senden said his focus has been to improve his short game, especially inside 100 yards, as well as his putting. In terms of the latter category, no one has been better on the greens this week.
Senden came to Cog Hill ranked 96th in Strokes Gained-Putting -- the TOUR's primary putting statistic -- but is No. 1 in the field through 36 holes this week.
If he can maintain that hot putting streak for the next two days, perhaps he'll break that five-year drought ... and find himself with an invitation to play back home.
Well, so much for that strong start by John Senden. The Aussie’s lead vanished after a bogey on the par-4 13th, where he three-putted from just over 31 feet, and a double bogey on the par-3 14th, where he hit it in the water off the tee then failed to get up and down.
Those two holes are in the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty at TPC Southwind. They’re also among a stretch of holes, however, that helped Lee Westwood to victory there a year ago. Remember, Westwood opened with a 63 last year and did most of his damage on the back nine with an eagle and four birdies from Nos. 10 through 18 (his front nine that day).
The good news for Senden? He’s still just three off the lead -- for now.
Different year, similar start for John Senden, who a year after opening with a 66 in Memphis before fading to tie for 37th is atop the leaderboard at 4 under through his first 12 holes. But his fast start probably goes deeper than TPC Southwind fitting his eye.
Senden, whose lone career victory came at the 2006 John Deere Classic, has been playing well the last month -- the Aussie tied for eighth at Colonial and last week tied for seventh at Muirfield Village.
In today’s opening round, Senden has kept that good play going, hitting six of nine fairways and 10 of 12 greens on his way to four birdies no bogey.
Of course Senden isn’t the only one playing well -- four others, including Camilo Villegas, who has yet to finish in the top 25 this season, are 3 under in the early going.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
At the start of the day did John Senden think he’d pick up strokes on the lead by shooting even par?
In a word, no.
“It was a pretty windy day, wasn't it?,” said Senden, who will enter the final round in third place just four shots off the lead after Daivd Toms shot 74 to lose what was once a seven-shot advantage.
“Now it will be an interesting day tomorrow.”
Saturday was pretty interesting on its own.
The wind howled and the scores were much higher as a result, especially for Toms, who suffered a 12-shot swing the wrong direction from his first two rounds.
A native Australian used to playing in the wind, Senden took advantage -- though it wasn’t exactly easy for him either.
“I think the wind was an issue today,” Senden said. “Springtime in Texas is always going to be windy. You know, go out there and do your job and see what happens at the end of the day.”
It also helps that Senden lives about 40 minutes from Colonial Country Club.
”It's a fun tournament for us and Colonial Country Club really looks after me as well,” he said. “They let me come down here any time and play and it's a fun golf course to play.”
Call him Honest John.
Aussie John Senden, who tied for second at the Copperhead Course in 2007, was in one of the early groups Thursday -- about to play his second shot on the par-5 fifth hole -- when his ball moved in the middle of his backswing.
No one saw it, and Senden went on to par the hole. But the fact that he thought the ball moved bothered him all the way up to the fifth green.
"[I] just went up to (TOUR official) Steve Rintoul and said: 'Look, this is what's happened, I want to clear it up right now, what's the deal,'" Senden said. "I knew it was a penalty for the ball moving but I wanted to make sure that I was okay hitting the ball still, because I wasn't 100 percent sure that even when I hit the ball, it was ‑‑ it just happened."
"The ball just sort of started to move ever so slightly back and by the time it started moving back, I was committed to hit the shot and I just hit it. It really didn't move. I said to my caddie, 'You know what? I'm not sure whether you saw it on the second shot.'"
Senden was penalized a shot, turning his par into a bogey. But good karma awaited -- Senden bogeyed the sixth, then played the final 12 holes in five under to shoot 67, his lowest score in two months.
"I just had to settle down after that incident and still play," Senden said. "I've been feeling good, so go out there and enjoy myself and play a great golf course."
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Nine months from now, Fred Couples will take his U.S. Team to Melbourne, Australia to play in the Presidents Cup.
But in the more immediate future on Saturday at Riviera Country Club, two Aussies – Aaron Baddeley and John Senden -- have just pulled within a shot of Fred Couples after making birdies on the par-3 sixth hole. Baddeley’s putt was 6 feet while Senden made it from 5.
Both players from Down Under are bidding to end lengthy victory droughts. Baddeley’s last victory came at the 2007 FBR Open while Senden’s was at the 2006 John Deere Classic.
Their records are Riviera are inconsistent. Baddeley hasn’t missed a Northern Trust Open since 2005 but a tie for seventh in 2005 is his only top-10 finish.
Senden, on the other hand, has only made two cuts in six starts at Riviera. With rounds of 67 and 69 this week, he’s already tripled his tally of sub-70s scores.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Kevin Na has gained some ground on Fred Couples midway through the front nine in the third round of the Northern Trust Open.
The 27-year-old Na made three birdies in his first five holes to close the gap to one. He just missed the green at the par-3 sixth hole and made his first bogey, but Na has still pulled into a tie for second with Aaron Baddeley, John Senden and Trevor Immelman.
Na is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory after three runner-up finishes, most recently at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. He two-putted the first hole from 34 feet for his first birdie, then made putts of 5 feet and 12 inches after a pinpoint approach at the fifth hole.
PACIFIC PALISADES – Everyone has teed off in the third round of the Northern Trust Open, and the par-5 first hole has proven generous. Every player in the last three groups – nine in all – made birdie there Saturday morning.
Fred Couples, who rolled in a 94-foot eagle putt on No. 1 in the second round, had a putt of 18 feet to get to 2 under right off the bat. He didn’t make it, but tapped in from 6 inches to maintain his two-stroke lead.
Spencer Levin, Aaron Baddeley, J.B. Holmes and John Senden kept pace and are 7 under. Kevin Na, Stewart Cink and Trevor Immelman are three strokes behind.
The only player late in the second round who had a chance to catch leader Fred Couples was John Senden. Instead, the Aussie three-putted from 10 feet on the final hole -- he hit his first putt 12 feet past the hole -- to give a stroke back and end his day two off the lead at 6 under after a 2-under 69.
A hole earlier, Senden laid up on the par-5 17th only to hit his approach shot to 35 feet and two-putt for par from there.
Three-putting was a rare mistake for Senden, who is eighth in the field this week in putting and ninth in greens in regulation. Still, his nine birdies leave him in good shape going into what looks like will be a wet weekend.
“Today was a little tougher than yesterday I thought with the conditions,” Senden said. “The golf course is actually softening up, which makes it sort of more target golf now, and possibly if we can stick the rain away tomorrow, it'll be ‑‑ I think the scores will be better on the weekend than what we had the first two days.”