September 16 2011
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.