If a PGA Tour player is looking for his first victory, he might want to enter the John Deere Classic.
For the seventh time in eight years, a first-timer has captured the top prize. Australian John Senden became the latest victor with a one-shot triumph July 16 over J.P. Hayes at the TPC at Deere Run.
Senden birdied his first two holes Sunday and capped the round with a birdie at No. 17 that proved to be the difference. Senden, 35, finished at 19-under 265 after a final-round 68.
“It was a feeling of relief that you can get it done,” said Senden, who won in his 139th start.
Sean O’Hair (2005), Mark Hensby (2004), Hayes (2002), David Gossett (2001), Michael Clark II (2000) and J.L. Lewis (1999) all captured their first PGA Tour titles at the John Deere. Only Vijay Singh’s four-shot victory in 2003 broke the Quad Cities streak.
Senden collected $720,000 and earned a ticket to this week’s British Open as the top finisher not previously eligible. Senden missed the cut in his only British Open start in 2002.
Senden’s victory also gives Australia seven PGA Tour titles in 2006, matching the most by another country in one season. In 2004, six Aussies compiled seven victories, led by Adam Scott with two. The others: Stuart Appleby, Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling, Craig Parry and Andre Stolz. Senden joins Appleby (2), Geoff Ogilvy (2), Pampling and Aaron Baddeley with triumphs this season.
Holding a one-shot lead, Senden’s second shot on No. 18 landed in a greenside bunker. He blasted to 5 inches for a tap-in par and the win.
“My lie in the bunker was a beautiful lie,” he said. “An uphill lie, and all I had to do was splash it out and it was going to track down to the hole. . . . I had to be positive. Knocking that last putt in was fantastic.”
The attention most of the week centered on Michelle Wie and her attempt to become the first woman in 61 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
Wie, who missed the cut by two shots here last year, shot 6-over 77 in the first round. On Friday with temperatures in the upper 80s and the heat index a bit higher, Wie struggled after the first four holes with stomach pains, nauseau and dizziness.
She was in obvious pain over the next four holes, bending over and gripping her stomach, wiping her face with a towel and sitting on her bag every chance she got. Her caddie gave her several bottles of cold water to drink, but Wie only got worse.
“I saw she was hurting, but she never said anything,” said playing partner Jeff Gove, who shot 74-69 and missed the cut.
After a double bogey at the ninth for a 2-over 37, Wie consulted with her parents and notified Gove and Daisuke Maruyama, who tied for 10th, that she was withdrawing.
Wie, 16, received medical attention at the course and by Illinois law was required to go to the hospital. She was taken off the course in an ambulance.
“She’s fine. She’s getting better,” B.J. Wie said when he came out of the course medical trailer.
Wie, who will next play at the LPGA’s Evian Masters July 26-29, was released from the Genesis Medical Center later Friday. She is now 0-for-5 in PGA Tour events and will get another chance to make history in September, when she is scheduled to play the 84 Lumber Classic.
On the weekend, though, it was Senden who stepped into the spotlight.
He shot 64 Saturday to go 16 under and take a three-stroke lead over Heath Slocum and Patrick Sheehan. It was the first time Senden led after three rounds since joining the Tour five years ago. His best previous finish was a tie for fifth at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in January.
“I always thought I could do it and probably had to be a matter of time, because I was playing well the last couple of years,” said Senden, who has finished 114th or better on the PGA Tour money list since earning his Tour card at the 2001 Qualifying School. “I’ve improved every single year on the Tour. This year has been the best I’ve been striking it, the best results I’ve had.”
– Staff and wire reports