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John Senden is in prime position for his best finish ever in a major. (Photo: Getty Images)
John Senden is in prime position for his best finish ever in a major. (Photo: Getty Images)

Senden saves score with clutch string of rebound birdies

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Patience is indeed a virtue in major championships, and John Senden did a marvelous Job impression at the PGA Championship on Friday. After throwing away three shots on two holes, the Aussie righted his ship with three straight birdies.

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

TULSA, Okla. -- Just when it appeared as if the wheels were about to fly off an otherwise steady second round in the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Australia's John Senden mustered up a string of birdies to save the day and an even-par 70.

At 1-under-par 139, the 42-year-old Senden will have a chance to complete a foursome of first-time major champions in 2007, joining Zach Johnson at the Masters, Angel Cabrera at the U.S. Open and Padraig Harrington at the Open Championship. The last time there were four first-time major winners in a single season was 2003 with Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel.

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"I was actually playing the ninth hole today, and Zach Johnson was teeing off on the 18th hole," Senden said. "He's a guy that won the Masters this year, and I watched him coming down the stretch. It looked like he was so involved and so in control of his own feelings and emotions. And I think that he looked like the best player out there in that tournament. You know, you've got Tiger Woods chasing his tail but he just sort of stuck to his guns at that tournament. And when I watched him come up there, I sort of thought, he's a young guy. He's won a major championship, and I think that I can.

"I feel that I just need to believe that I can do it as well and at this stage it's coming together."

Senden's poise on Friday was proof that it's coming together. After going bogey-double-bogey on Nos. 9 and 10, he bounced back with three consecutive birdies to cancel out those two blunders.

The double-bogey on No. 10 was the result of trying to play a little too aggressively.

"I mean I didn't do much wrong on 10. I just short-sided myself and left myself a difficult chip shot," he said. "It felt like a bit of a kick in the belly on No. 10. But all week I've been staying quite focused on what I've been doing, staying involved in the process of how I need to play this course."

Senden's birdie binge began on No. 11 -- a par 3 -- where he hit an 8-iron to 12 feet. On No. 12, he stuck a 9-iron approach to 8 feet and knocked in the putt, then made his last birdie of the day with an up-and-down from 80 yards at No. 13.

Much like Thursday, the heat was a factor again on Friday as temperatures peaked around 100 degrees. While Senden said he's seen spectators drop because of the heat this week, he wasn't much bothered by the weather.

"You know, where I'm from in Brisbane, it's pretty hot there as well. It's humid," he said. "We play a tournament, the course is just like this. Kind of feeling like I'm used to it a little bit. In the summertime in America, it's hot anyway. So we've come from hot weather. The British Open was cold. But this week is, you know, a little bit over the top with the heat. But you just have to do the right things to hydrate and keep yourself feeling good."

Though he stumbled a touch with bogeys on his last two holes -- both tee shots found the right rough and he was forced to chip back into the fairway both times -- Senden is encouraged by his position heading into the weekend.

"Tomorrow's going to be a new day. It's going to be different for me. It's the best position I've been in in a major championship," said Senden, whose best finish in five previous majors was a tie for 35th at the 2006 Open Championship. "So I'm going to have to just concentrate on sticking to what I know, and that's my process of what I'm doing out there, and trying to minimize the distractions and try and really get out there and do a good job again."

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