Players support Senden's son with Rubik's Cube patch
May 18, 2017
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Ernie Els was one of many players Thursday who showed support for Jacob Senden. (Mike McAllister/PGATOUR.COM)
IRVING, Texas – For just the second time since 2002, John Senden is not in the AT&T Byron Nelson field, a tournament that’s generally a fixture on his playing schedule.
The reason is heartbreaking: Senden is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the PGA TOUR after announcing three weeks ago that his 13-year-old son Jacob has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Shortly after the announcement, Senden’s good friend and fellow Aussie Steven Bowditch – who lives close to the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas and won this event in 2015 – came up with an idea for TOUR pros to show their support.
During Thursday’s first round, players wore on their caps a patch resembling a Rubik’s Cube, which happens to be Jacob’s favorite toy. While Senden is not here in person, the family – and especially Jacob – is in the thoughts of Bowditch and his fellow competitors.
“We’re all thinking of him all the time,” Bowditch said. “Anything we can do to try and put a smile on his face and help him get through this. We just all hope he can punch on through.”
Another Aussie, Cameron Percy, was on the practice green at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when he heard that Bowditch and his partner Rod Pampling had withdrawn in the team event. Soon after, he was informed of the reason.
“I had a tear in my eye,” Percy recalled Thursday. “Everyone felt the same way – just devastated. We had played a practice round in San Antonio the previous week, had dinner twice and we spoke that Friday night. I had no idea. Neither did he.
“There couldn’t be two nicer people than John and (wife) Jackie. It’s not fair, is it?”
Ernie Els had not been aware of the development until he showed up at the course Thursday at TPC Four Seasons and saw the patches of support. Nine years ago, Els announced that his son Ben was autistic, and since then, the South African and his wife Liezl have been instrumental in raising awareness for the disorder.
Many TOUR pros have donated their time and participated in Els’ charitable functions for his foundation.
“It just makes you think,” Els said. “We’re chasing birdies and pars out here, but when you hear something like this, we pull together as a TOUR, as a friendship, as a unit. We’ve done it with me. We’ve done it with other guys. We’re going to do it for John and his family now.”
Jason Day has dealt with his own family’s cancer issues lately, his mother Dening having been diagnosed in Australia with terminal lung cancer. Day brought his mother to the United States, where further tests were done. Surgery was recently performed that resulted in a much more encouraging diagnosis, and Dening is now back in Australia with an improved outlook.
“I know exactly what he’s feeling like in regard to that,” Day said.
Day and his wife Ellie have two young children. Day said he “could never fathom thinking about going through something like that. It breaks my heart for him and I’m just hoping and praying for the best for him and his family because it is a difficult time for him.”
And now the fight begins. Bowditch reports that Jacob had his first treatment last weekend.
“I’m sure he’ll pull through and come out the other side,” Bowditch said. “He’s a strong kid, a great kid with a great family.”Pros showed their support for Jacob Senden by sporting Rubik's Cube pins on their attire Thursday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. (Photos by Mike McAllister)