Senden two clear at Australian Open

Dallas based Brisbane golfer, John Senden, has a two shot lead after the opening round of the Emirates Australian Open at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, the 2006 Champion taking advantage of the early morning conditions to post a round of 66.

Senden leads by two over a group of five golfers including one of the pre tournament favourites Justin Rose, West Australian Kim Felton, New Zealander Gareth Paddison, Victorian Richard Green and Canberra's Brendan Jones.

Jones was the only one of those six players to come from the afternoon field where the conditions proved slightly more difficult as the wind increased. Not that the conditions were anything near the horrific gusts that prevailed throughout much of yesterday but it was perhaps a one to two shot more difficult golf course in the afternoon today although that should even things out tomorrow when the draw is reversed.

Senden has come off what has been another good year on the PGA Tour and although he has won only twice anywhere in the last 14 years he is a player who, even at the age of 41, is still gaining experience.

Senden believes he is getting to a point where he can contend and potentially win a major. "I said to you guys four or five years ago that I needed to get more experience in the major championships," he said when asked that very question.

"Each year I'd get in one or two, possibly. For the last three years I've been getting in to all four. That has been much better experience for me. If I keep working hard on my game and getting this experience in the major championships, playing with the best players in the world, that's one of the goals.

"It is about gaining the experience, being in form, winning other tournaments to handle that situation better. I have not been in contention a lot in major championships but I think if I keep improving and keep knocking on the door in the regular events, I think I can set the goals and knock on the door in the major championships."

Senden has previously finished 4th in a major at the 2007 PGA Championship and this year had his best finish at the US Open when 10th at the Olympic Club.

In many respects Senden's game is built around major championship golf. He is regarded as one of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour, perhaps only a lack of genuine self belief on the greens holding him back from even more success. His career has been a commercial success however earning more than US$15,000,000 in the US alone.

Justin Rose was matching strides with Senden early, in fact both made the turn in five under par 32. When both dropped shots early in their back nines they appeared to be coming back to the field before Senden birdied the 7th and 8th holes to move ahead.

Rose is recovering from a hectic schedule and said today that he was feeling good after two nights sleep. He is still the man the field needs to beat it would seem.

Paddison is in good form at present having finished in a share of 3rd at the recent Talisker Masters at Kingston Heath. The left hander has long been considered a gifted talent having made the cut in a US PGA Tour event as an amateur but overall his professional career has been a disappointment until now. There are encouraging signs developing however.

Kim Felton is another good enough to finish third himself at the Australian Masters as an amateur. He too has not experienced as much success as many imagined he might in the professional ranks but he has recently begun working with Australian professional Brad Hughes who has attempted to simplify things for him. It appears to be working as last week Felton won the Jeep Series Final on the Gold Coast to further build his growing confidence.

Richard Green has been one of Australia's better players over a long period without winning often at home. He can boast an Australian Masters on his CV but his opening round of 68 has opened the door at least for perhaps an Australian Open to go with it.

Jones played late in the day, adding to the quality of his performance. Jones is a 12 time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and earned over $A1 million up there in 2012. He seldom plays at home as the season ending Japan Tour events often clash with the flagship events here but he is a class player who could go on with it this week. He gets the chance to play early tomorrow and could make the most of it.

Former champion Stephen Allan is in 7th position along with Nick Flanagan and Marcus Fraser. Fraser's round was headed in the wrong direction until he struck a purple patch in the early stages of his back nine.
He played the holes between the 11th and the 15th in six under par, helped in no small way by his hole in one at the 15th.

Adam Scott began the event as one of the pre tournament favourites and although he missed an opportunity this morning when he could only manage a round of even par he is certainly not out of it yet.

Scott might not have shot himself in the foot but he does have a flesh wound that he needs to recover from tomorrow although he will face the afternoon conditions to do so.

At day's end 26 players were under par reflecting a day that offered opportunity early before things became more difficult in the late morning and afternoon.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

More Articles from Bruce Young