John Senden wins the Valspar Championship

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John Senden was able to outlast a slew of players and difficult conditions on Sunday at Innisbrook to claim his first PGA Tour win in eight years.

What Happened

For most of Sunday, we had no idea who was going to win this tournament, and that’s usually a good thing. In this case though, the tough conditions and the poor play of those at the top of the leaderboard combined for a pretty dry Sunday in terms of entertainment value. The final group of Robert Garrigus and Kevin Na struggled on the front nine and appeared to take themselves right out of it, opening the door for a number of players, including Senden, Luke Donald, Scott Langley and Will MacKenzie.

A pair of bogeys on 12 and 13 appeared to take Senden out of it, and even though he birdied the par-5 14th, he immediately gave it back on the 15th with another bogey. Entering the Snake Pit, Senden was tied for the lead, but the tough stretch figured to knock him back down a little bit. Instead of knocking him down though, the Snake Pit proved no match for the veteran Aussie, starting with the 16th where he chipped in for birdie:

03.16.14 senden chip in

Then, the birdie on 17:

03.16.14 senden putt 17

Na was actually able to get close to Senden by nailing a couple of clutch birdie putts down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough as Senden was able to grab the one-shot victory.

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. John Senden -7
  • 2. Kevin Na -6
  • 3. Scott Langley -5
  • T4. Will MacKenzie -4
  • T4. Luke Donald -4
  • T4. Robert Garrigus -4

What The Win Means For Senden

I thought those tweets from Will Gray were interesting during Sunday’s round, and while I’m sure that the just over $1 million that Senden earned on Sunday is very nice, getting back into the winner’s circle is what matters to Senden. He’s always been known as a tremendous ball striker who struggled on the greens, and in recent years with health concerns.

It really is difficult to believe that Senden’s last win on the PGA Tour came at the 2006 John Deere, and even if you include other professional tours in that query, Senden’s last win came in 2006 at the Australian Open. I don’t know what this really means in the grand scheme of things for Senden because I don’t think anyone is really expecting him to go on some kind of Patrick Reed-esque tear, but what this does do in the short term is guarantee that Senden remains on the PGA Tour for the next two years, plus going back to Augusta is always a nice thing. The win also moves him into 60th place in the Official World Golf Rankings.

John Daly’s 90

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So, I guess I’m going to be the one to defend John Daly a little bit. Look, the 90 was obviously more inept than you’d ever expect from a tour pro, but Daly was pretty open and honest with how it all came together. He could have very easily walked off the course but he didn’t, and while that shouldn’t be what Daly is looking to achieve, it’s honestly probably the most we can expect at this point. He didn’t walk away or fake an injury or even really give any excuses. He mentioned that he’s battling the yips a little bit right now, plus at his age and with his trademark inconsistency, we really shouldn’t expect him to compete anyway.

The reaction to the 90 was interesting, with people poking fun at the two-time major winner and Daly responding back in kind, calling people jerks on Twitter before deleting the messages. To be honest, it was a little childish from all angles, but the bigger issue at play here I suppose is how he keeps getting invited to events. At some point, tournament organizers are going to have to weigh his “everyman appeal” against the fact that he’s probably never going to get it all together again, at least for four consecutive rounds. I fully believe that Daly is a good guy and that he’s trying to get his game back on track, but it’s probably time for him to take it a little more seriously if he wants to be at least partially done with his current reputation.

Kevin Na’s Reputation

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Speaking of reputations, we have to talk a little bit about Kevin Na, who was ripped almost unanimously after his third round when he and Garrigus were told that they needed to speed up their play. Na is one of the slowest players on tour as has been well documented, but as Ryan Lavner points out, Saturday was a different story. Unfortunately for Na, this one is probably going to follow him wherever he goes.

Other Notes

  • Notables to miss the cut: Ernie Els, Bo Van Pelt, Jonas Blixt, Webb Simpson, Brendon de Jonge, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Peter Uihlein, Angel Cabrera, Thorbjorn Olesen and John Daly.
  • Other notable finishes: Graham DeLaet, Justin Rose, Matteo Manassero and Gary Woodland (T8), Charles Howell III, Jason Dufner and Bill Haas (T14), Jordan Spieth and Jim Furyk (T20), Ryo Ishikawa (T25), Harris English, Kevin Streelman and Matt Kuchar (T38) and Brandt Snedeker (T58).
  • Injury report: Mark Calcavecchia withdrew on Sunday with an illness. Calcavecchia, who according to his wife, hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, was apparently looking awful. “I’ve never seen him this white. He was ready to go down.” Blake Adams is the more concerning one for me though, who withdrew during the first round citing a hip injury. As far as I know, it hasn’t been specified as to which hip it is, but Adams recently had surgery on his left hip and declared himself ready to go.
  • The other thing to mention in the injury report is the way that Rory Sabbatini gutted through a very tough round on Sunday. Apparently he had been dealing with some injury problems coming into the tournament, and when he sneezed on the 13th tee, one of his ribs completely seized up. We all know that Sabbatini isn’t the most likeable player on the PGA Tour, but man, I have to think that just about everyone felt for the guy yesterday.

03.16.14 sabbatini injury

Why didn’t he withdraw?

I respect that.

  • Tough final round 79 for Retief Goosen, who entered the day in a tie for third place. He only needed to make about $100,000 to earn his tour card again, as he is on a major medical. The fall down the leaderboard saw him earn around $15,000, and now he’ll need to make up the remaining money on his next two starts.

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