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Veteran John Senden seals Valspar glory in Florida

Updated: Monday, 17 Mar 2014 10:02 | Comments

John Senden crosses a bridge on the 12th fairway during his final round
John Senden crosses a bridge on the 12th fairway during his final round

PGA Tour veteran John Senden won just his second title in 13 years on Sunday as he claimed a one-shot victory at the Valspar Championship in Florida.

The Australian's only previous win had been at the John Deere Classic in 2006 but a closing round of 70 was enough to see him finish seven under and edge American Kevin Na into second.

Darren Clarke was best placed of the Irish, a final round of 72 leaving him on six over par overall. Padraig Harrington’s final round of 74 mean that he finished one strokes further back on seven over par.

Senden, meanwhile, had no such difficulties. The highlight of his round was a stunning 68-foot chip for birdie at  the par-four 16th and he followed that with another birdie at 17 before finishing with a par.

"I knew that I was swinging well enough to go out there and give it a shake" - John Senden

"The pitch shot [on 16] came in there a little left to right and I just thought, 'I just want to get this inside a couple of feet and walk off the green," he told Sky Sports 4. "It was really just like a magic shot."

"[On] 17 I had a really good line, I had a left to right, about a foot of break and I just struck it well and it went straight in the middle."

He added: "The scoring always stays under double figures here and I think that if I could just stay in the moment I knew that I was swinging well enough to go out there and give it a shake."

A seven-under-par 64 had fired Senden into contention on Saturday and he began the day two shots behind overnight leader Robert Garrigus.

But as Garrigus's front nine fell apart, Senden picked up shots at one and five to move into the lead before a bogey on seven halted his progress.

Further dropped shots at 12 and 13 threatened to derail his bid for victory but the 42-year-old birdied the next and bogeyed 15 before his big finish sealed the win.

Na had begun the day just a single shot behind Garrigus and he picked up a shot on the fifth before giving it back on the sixth.

He then went bogey, double-bogey on the next two and despite picking up shots on 14 and 17, the damage had been done.

Garrigus fell out of contention on the front nine as double-bogeys on three and six sandwiched a dropped shot on four.

A run of seven pars then steadied the ship but a birdie on 14 proved inconsequential as the American finished three shots back of the winner.

Another unheralded American, Scott Langley, finished on five under after a closing 70 which put him a shot ahead of Garrigus, Will MacKenzie and former world number one Luke Donald.

Birdies at three and nine had put Donald well in contention but he dropped shots at 11 and 13 and eventually finished with a 70 after making a four at the par-five 14th.

Fellow Englishman Justin Rose had also been primed to make a challenge after birdieing the first but a run of five bogeys in seven holes from the seventh to the 14th put paid to his bid.

Mackenzie had reached the turn in level par but birdies on 11,12 and 13 put him right in the mix before a bogey on 15 saw him close with a 69.

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