Senden wins with late birdies

John Senden of Australia made two birdies down the stretch and posted an even-par 70 to claim his second PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Kevin Na in the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The 42-year-old Senden, whose only other victory on the circuit came in the 2006 John Deere Classic, was tied for the lead with Na and Scott Langley when he holed a 68-foot chip shot on the 16th hole and followed with a 22-foot putt for another birdie one hole later.

“I just love this course, the way it flows through the trees,” said Senden, who tied for second at Innisbrook in 2007 and 2008. “It’s a difficult course and you know the winner is always going to be under double figures (under par).

“I was playing well and knew I could have a chance at the finish. The chip shot, I was just trying to get within five feet and it was like a magic shot. The putt (on No. 17) had about a foot of break, I hit it well and it went right in the middle.”

Senden, who also won the 2006 Australian Open, earned his fifth appearance in the Masters next month with his sixth professional victory.

Na, from Diamond Bar, was coming off consecutive rounds of 68 but stumbled with bogey-bogey-double bogey on a three-hole stretch through No. 8 in the final round.

However, he bounced back with birdies on the 14th and 17th holes, but missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff and settled for a closing 72.

Langley, 23, the 2010 NCAA individual champion who played for Illinois, finished with a 70 and was two shots back in third to equal his best finish on the circuit, a tie for third in the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii.

Will Mackenzie played the weekend in 68-69 and tied for fourth, three shots back, with Luke Donald of England, the 2012 champion on the Copperhead Course, who shot 70, and Robert Garrigus, who led after the second and third rounds but struggled home with a 75.

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