John Senden earned a return to the Masters, banked more than $US1 million and buried some troublesome demons with a drought-breaking victory in the US PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.
The 42-year-old from Brisbane claimed just his second title in more than 12 seasons on the tour – almost eight years after the first – when he birdied two of the last three holes of the difficult Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Florida on Sunday.
The run included a “magic” chip-in for birdie on the 16th for birdie and was enough for a one-stroke win from American Kevin Na as he posted a closing one-under par 70 to finish at seven-under 271.
Most importantly it boosted his belief as he prepares to return to major championship golf, having earned starts in next month’s Masters and also the US PGA Championship.
“Winning again is something that makes you believe more that you can get it done again rather than, you know, just once,” said Senden, who has played 205 US tour events, with four runner-up finishes – including two on the same Copperhead course – since his 2006 John Deere Classic win.
“It stops you thinking, was (the 2006 win) something out of the blue or a flash in the pan?
“I didn’t believe so but now it feels like it consolidates my belief.”
The victory has Senden projected to climb back to No.58 in the world rankings after slipping to No.123 in the wake of an injury-affected 2013.
He’s set to join defending champion Adam Scott and fellow countrymen Jason Day, Marc Leishman and amateur Oliver Goss at Augusta National and won’t be there to make up the numbers, as he firmly believes he can salute again.
And why not. He had a putt for the Masters lead on the back nine on Saturday last year before a late fade.
“Augusta is one of the greatest tournaments ever and to get back there again this year will be fantastic and it’s amazing,” Senden said.
“It’s just a dream come true to get back there again and other big tournaments coming up.
“I can reset the schedule a little bit more and keep believing that I can produce this form to give myself a chance at the ultimate dream of winning a major championship.”
Given the renowned ball-striker was able to rely on his short game this week, often his roadblock to more success, the win was even sweeter.
Extra work with coach Ian Triggs, plus major-winner Ian Baker-Finch has paid off.
“With all the good quality players out here on the PGA Tour, the young guys coming up now, you really have to do everything great to win,” Senden said.
“This weekend was a chance for me to get out there and show that and the short game came through.”