Saturday, September 22, 2018

Senden back at Valspar, hoping to add to his success

PALM HARBOR — Players in this week's Valspar Championship at Innisbrook started trickling in on Monday. Aside from those already scheduled to play in the celebrity pro-am, several others were on the driving range and practice green.

One of those was 2014 champion John Senden, who missed the cut last year. Jordan Spieth won last year's tournament on the third playoff hole. This will be the first of five titles Spieth will attempt to defend this season.

Senden, 44, said there are a few more obligations being the defending Valspar champion, but the spotlight won't be as bright as it will be the week of the Masters (April 4-10), which Spieth also won last year.

"There are a few more things to things to do, some extra media, but not a lot," Senden said. "It's a nice, relaxed feel here. It's not like it's hyped up like the world events or the majors."

Like Spieth, Senden has played well at Innisbrook in the past. He tied for second in both 2007 and '08 before winning. He has not won another tournament since 2014. But that hasn't put a damper on his confidence this week. He feels he can be a contender every time he's in this tournament.

"I've had some good results here," Senden said. "This place has been good to me. You have to take those good experiences and ride with it. That's what I've tried to do when I turn up here to play."

FIELD NOTES: Brandt Snedeker suffered injured ribs while playing in last week's WGC Cadillac Championship and withdrew this week. He was replaced by Tyler Aldrich. … Brian Gay, a former Florida golfer, is the only golfer in the field to play in all 16 previous tournaments at Innisbrook dating to 2000. His best finish was a tie for fourth in 2007. … Martin Kaymer played the 2011 Transitions Championship as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. He is entered in this year's tournament on a sponsor's exemption.

MONDAY QUALIFIER: Those hoping to see John Daly play the Copperhead Course one last time are out of luck. Daly, 49, tried to get in the tournament through Monday qualifying after not receiving a sponsor's exemption. But he withdrew at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville before he could complete his round. Daly turns 50 in April and is scheduled to begin play on the Champions Tour in May. He has played at Innisbrook on six sponsor's exemptions since 2007, including last year.

There were 167 golfers registered for Monday's tournament. Four got in Thursday's Valspar Championship. One was Lucas Lee, who shot a course record 61. He had an eagle and nine birdies, including five straight on the back nine. Brandon Hagy, Tom Hoge and Vince India all shot 7-under 64 to also get in.

CELEBRITY PRO-AM: St. Petersburg boxer Winky Wright was part of the winning pro-am team on Monday. Wright was paired with professional Lee McCoy as well as amateurs Scott Bartholmey, Dave Enrick and Kevin Allbritten. They shot 17 under 54.

TODAY: Professionals will play practice rounds throughout the day. There is no pro-am scheduled.

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