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Last updated: March 16. 2014 11:52PM - 2756 Views
Associated Press



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PALM HARBOR, Fla. — John Senden ended more than seven years without a victory by making two late birdies, including a chip-in from 70 feet on the toughest hole at Innisbrook, for a one-shot victory on a wild and windy Sunday at the Valspar Championship.


Senden, two shots behind going into the final round, closed with a 1-under 70 for his first PGA Tour win since the 2006 John Deere Classic. The timing couldn’t have been better. The victory sends the 42-year-old Australian to the Masters next month. Senden finished at 7-under 277.


Kevin Na had a long birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff, but it never came close. He closed with a 72.


It took what Senden called a “magic shot” to shake loose from a traffic jam along the back nine of the Copperhead course. The tournament was up for grabs over the final two hours, with nine players separated by three shots at one point, and Senden part of a three-way tie for the lead heading into the treacherous, three-hole closing stretch at Innisbrook known as the “Snake Pit.”


He went birdie-birdie-par.


After driving into the trees and playing short of the green on the 16th, Senden lofted a pitch with perfect pace and watched it tumble into the cup for one of only two birdies in the final round. Equipped with a one-shot lead, he followed that with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th.


Equally important was the par on the 18th, which was just as difficult as the birdies. He needed two putts up a ridge and breaking slightly to the right before it went swiftly down the slope and breaking to the left. The 40-foot putt settled inches from the cup.


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