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July 16, 2009

John Senden


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, let's make a start. Joined by John Senden, leader in the clubhouse of The Open Championship with an opening-round 66, 4-under par.
John, it was a great round of golf. You must be delighted to be here as the seventh reserve to come in and then play such great golf. You presumably weren't expecting to be in this position a week ago.
JOHN SENDEN: No, when I was playing the John Deere Classic last week in America I was -- on the Sunday I was fourth alternate. And I knew that there was a jet that was travelling from the John Deere Classic to The Open Championship, and I decided not to get on that charter because being fourth, I thought, well, there's not really a lot of hope for me.
But when I arrived back into Dallas where we live, I felt -- sorry, I found out that morning I was first reserve. So I felt that was a good chance for me to take the chance and travel and get on the flight Monday and travel overnight to get here Tuesday morning.
When I arrived at the airport I got a text message from my caddie and he said that Jeev Milkha Singh was not feeling too great with his ribs and confirmed that he was pulling out of the event, and I was lucky enough to be in the field. So that was a bonus.
MALCOLM BOOTH: You must be pleased with the way you played and left it quite late with four birdies in the last six holes.
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, I played solid and a couple of good saves. Especially early I hit the ball well and felt like I was consistent through the front nine.
I had a good couple of saves through -- especially on 12, a good save on 12. And then that kept the momentum up to hole a couple of long putts on 13 and 14. And I hit it close on 15. So three birdies in a row definitely felt good.
And you know what, this year I've been feeling like I've been driving the ball well and striking the ball great. So I just had to find something with the short stick, and today I definitely was a lot better with the putter.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Could you just take me through those. What clubs did you hit on 13 for the birdie there?
JOHN SENDEN: 13, I hit 4-iron off the tee and I hit a 7-iron into about probably 30 feet.
14 was 3-wood, 6-iron into about 20 feet.
15 was 6-iron into maybe 8 feet.
17 was driver, 3-wood into the left trap. I actually didn't hit a great trap shot, but I holed a pretty good long putt for birdie, which was maybe 35 feet.
And I actually missed a pretty good chance on the 18th hole, too. So I felt solid today. It was a good day.

Q. When you were sitting there Sunday night, you could have got on that charter, which I believe didn't leave until about 10:00 or 11:00, because they had to wait for Steve Stricker. So did you not even think about it? And now that you look back on it, how close did you come to not even showing up?
JOHN SENDEN: Well, actually we left Sunday morning because I was on that score of 3-under, which didn't make the cut, right? Then what they did was they shortened the field for Sunday, because they played 36 holes due to the weather. And I was tied 66th, so I technically made the cut but didn't play on that Sunday.
At that stage, as I said before, I was fourth alternate on that Sunday and thinking that there was going to be someone make that spot at the John Deere to take the one spot for qualifying here. I thought that -- there's not really much chance.
Brett Quigley, he finished in the top five but never turned down his exemption for this event, and didn't decide to travel. So that put, I think, Thomas Levet in or one other, someone else who was next in line.
So I didn't know that until Monday, but then I found out Monday that I actually got to the first alternate. So that's why I decided to come on Monday and didn't travel Sunday night, because I was still fourth. I thought, not really much chance of getting in as fourth. You can, but obviously a lot better chance at first.
My thought that I was -- wanted to travel over here because first reserve, you know, I would have hated to be at home, being first reserve and knowing that someone else got in. But it was worth the trip.

Q. Did you have to scamper from Dallas?
JOHN SENDEN: No, I found out 8:00 in the morning I was first. My flight didn't leave until 1:00. So I had a couple of hours to get organised and pretty much had everything together when we come home from the John Deere Classic anyway.
When I won the John Deere in 2006 I was the last man in then. So now I'm the last man in this week, as well. So there's something about that.

Q. You made your charge on the back six. That indicates that patience is paramount on this course, I assume. Is it a question of hanging in there and not getting too frustrated if it doesn't happen early on?
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, the golf course is demanding, I don't care how bad the weather is. And you have to drive the ball well and you have to keep it out of the bunkers. The bunkers are basically a shot hazard, especially the fairway traps, and even some of the greenside traps because on most of the holes if you hit into a fairway trap there's no way you're reaching the green and you're sand ironing it out. And then basically if you can up-and-down it from the middle of the fairway for par, you've done exceptionally well.
But you can also get very -- you've got to stay patient with those bunkers, because if you're in them and you've got a shot, you don't want to get greedy and get an extra club to get it further up to the green or up to the green. So you can easily hit those faces, and they're straight up; there's not many that are angled so you can get the ball out. So if your ball hits the face, it's coming straight back at you, and if it doesn't hit you, it'll fall right next to your feet anyway.
So it's a matter of staying patient, taking what you get. I know that I had a good day today, but it's about hitting the golf shots, staying in the process of what you're doing and having the attitude that can take you with the good and bad out here, because I know over the next three days it's going to be ups and downs. That's what major championships are all about.
I haven't played a lot of major championships, but I know that watching U.S. Opens and Open Championships that you've really got to have your attitude at your best, if you want to have a chance to win this tournament. You've got to play great golf and you've got to have luck on your side. So I think that today was that day, as well.

Q. Coming in so late from the States here, have you been sleeping a lot? Did you practice much once you got here?
JOHN SENDEN: I played about 14, 15 holes on Tuesday and pretty much crashed on Tuesday night. But Tuesday night I went to sleep about 9:00, but then I woke up like 1:00, just sort of wide awake again, you know. So I was awake for a couple of hours. But then when I went back to sleep, I tried to get up at about 6:00 for an 8:00 practice round on Wednesday. I felt pretty tired on Wednesday morning and then actually played the full golf course again on Wednesday and still sort of felt -- I had the same night's sleep last night as I did the night before.
I was fortunate enough to have the early start today. I would have probably felt that today would have been a really long day if I had had a 3:30 tee off time and having not a great night's sleep last night, but teeing off early definitely made me get up and get out there early and makes it a better day today.

Q. Are you staying close by?
JOHN SENDEN: I'm staying at the hotel, yeah.

Q. With the weather expected to deteriorate further tomorrow, will you change your game plan at all or are you looking at changing your game plan?
JOHN SENDEN: I make my game plan as to what faces you on the day. I think that if the wind is hailing into you or hailing downbreeze or it's wet, you adjust. You've either got your wet weather gear on or your umbrella. You adjust to how the conditions are.
And especially around this golf course where every hole is so unique and plays so different with different conditions, I think that you've got to make your decisions with what you face on particular days. So there's no game plan to speak of. It's like you just choose a particular club or make a decision on what you face on that particular hole at that one time. And I think that's hopefully works.

Q. Back in '91 John Daly was ninth reserve when he won the US PGA. Can a seventh reserve come in here and win The Open?
JOHN SENDEN: Any man can come in here with and win The Open. We're all good enough to do it. It's about having the belief to go ahead and complete that. Look, I've been playing well this year. My experience in major championships, I haven't got a lot of experience, but my best result in a major was fourth at the PGA at Southern Hills a few years back.
And yeah, I mean if you can continue to stay patient and believe in myself you can do it. It's about being disciplined in a few certain areas. And if you play well and get the luck, you can win the championship.
My plan is to get out there tomorrow. It's a new day. Every day is a new day. So if I can get out there and put in a great performance, I'll have a chance. Everyone has a chance.

Q. As an Aussie, do you have much interest in the Ashes which are on over here at the moment? Do you know any of the Aussie cricketers? Do you rate their chance of success?
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, we always hope that the Aussies kick a little butt over here. The Ashes has obviously been an ongoing thing for years and years. And we take -- I don't see a lot of the games being in the U.S. We only get to see cricket at home. Yeah, you're interested in seeing the English and the Aussies go at it every few years. And it's a good thing.
But the second test starting in Lord's today I think that hopefully I'll get to watch a little bit on TV today.

Q. The Aussies really seem to thrive against the Brits in sports. Coming here as an Aussie, does that inspire you, as well?
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, as a young professional we were inspired by Greg Norman's ability to play the game at the highest level. He was No. 1 in the world. He won here at Turnberry. He was a great man, great player to watch. And he was basically our idol at home. When I first turned pro, which was back in '91, he was playing his best golf. And he was so good to watch, so strong and drove the ball so great. He was the man we all looked up to.
I think that that puts us in good stead for us travelling to major championships, and Geoff Ogilvy winning the U.S. Open back at Winged Foot definitely helped us Australians. The success at the British Open has been pretty good for Australia. I think that hopefully we can -- that sometime an Australian can win a green jacket, as well. But Greg Norman definitely sort of kicked us off pretty well.

Q. Yesterday on a couple of greens you seemed to be working really hard on something. And you didn't seem totally --
JOHN SENDEN: Yesterday?

Q. Yeah.
JOHN SENDEN: Well, if you take a look at statistics and you look at putting and you look at driving and you always seem to see that my stats are good at the driving, and the putting is not the greatest. But it's kind of -- I believe it's a little misleading, because if you're hitting a lot of greens, unless you're shooting averaging 67 or 68 on a full year, it's difficult to get your putting stats low.
With saying that, I think that I believe that that is one area I can improve, and I work hard on my putting to try to improve it.

Q. Is there something you found yesterday when you were doing that work, more the greens?
JOHN SENDEN: Well, the greens, I still believe that the greens at that golf course especially today were still a little on a slow side from what I've experienced in major championships before. I guess because they want to keep them that way, because if they get high winds or certain weather then they become unplayable. I've seen that happen at Muirfield back in 2002 when they had that really pretty ordinary weather on Saturday and Sunday, and the greens were very on the slow side. But if they had have been quick, you wouldn't have been playing on that day, because of the conditions of the golf course.
And having so much rain probably in this area, the greens are very green, so they're a bit on the slower side. But they're just rolling beautiful.
So I think that the -- what I was trying to say was in regards to the hitting putts. I think you can be aggressive on these putts, and that's what I've been trying to work on is to actually hit putts at the hole with a higher speed because you know that they're not going to go ridiculously past the hole if you do hit it at a high speed past the hole. And it's one of those things that I've been working on for a long time, not just yesterday.

Q. You've been, as you said, a pro since '91. It's only your fourth Open Championship. Has it been a situation where you haven't made a huge effort to qualify? Secondly, do you like links golf? Does it suit your game? Do you think -- is it something that you could do well at?
JOHN SENDEN: I turned pro at the end of '91, when I finished my time in Brisbane. Back then I really didn't have a lot of money, so I couldn't really travel to Europe a lot. I tried to just play the local circuits in Australia, and then I basically spent most of my time in the '90s in Asia. Asian Tour and European Tour is kind of a long way away. I just really didn't have enough coin to get over there to spend money on just a qualifying event to make the British Open.
It wasn't until '94 was my first time I come over here and tried to qualify for The Open here at Turnberry and didn't make it in. But I saw The Open Championship for the first time and I thought it is fabulous. You watch it on TV as a kid and you see it on TV. But being here is definitely different.
So from '94 on I wasn't able to try to get over here most years to try to qualify, and I didn't have much success in qualifying until 2002 and qualified at Muirfield, and then my next time was at -- when I got in after the John Deere. And '06 and '07 and '09 have been decent for me.

Q. How do you feel about the type of golf required?
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, the links golf course is very different. You need good imagination around these golf courses. You can be in a certain spot on the golf course and you can have half a dozen style of shots you can play to try to get the ball close.
So that's unique, very different from playing golf in America or Asia. Somewhat similar to Australia, the Melbourne golf courses. It's a dry surface. It's a faster surface. And Melbourne and over here, as well. So you've really got to use your different style of shots to get around these golf courses, where in the U.S. the golf courses are softer. They have this much rough on every single setup each week. So the same style of play around the greens is needed in America, rather than you can play any sort of shot to hit the ball close here at the Open Championships.

Q. I wondered if you had any standout memories from the Opens of '86 and '94? Obviously where were you, what were you doing when Greg won? And then '94, the first one you came over to try to qualify for?
JOHN SENDEN: Sure. '86 I was still a junior golfer, and I was watching Norman on TV on that week. That was one of my first memories of him, winning the golf championship. And watching golf, The Open Championship, on TV. So it's always good to see him do that.
And in '94 was the first time I'd ever seen a links golf course live, which was here. I did try and qualify down the road at Western Gailes, but I didn't make it in. But being here in '94 was unique because I remember seeing on the practise day, Nicklaus and Norman, Watson and Price have a practise round. And I thought that was pretty special, because you got the two guys that went at it here in '77, Watson winning, and then Norman in '86. And then with Price in the group, and he went on to win, I thought that was pretty amazing.

Q. You were a punter outside the ropes?
JOHN SENDEN: I was a punter outside the ropes that's right. But that was the main thing that I remember about '94. I still remember Nicky Price eagling -- I think he birdied 16, eagled 17 to steal the championship off Parnevik. And I thought that was amazing finish and a worthy champion, I guess. That was basically my memories of those two years.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, we did. I had my girlfriend here at the time, now my wife. And we actually went on a European tour trip after that somewhere.

Q. You found somewhere to stay, decent accommodations?
JOHN SENDEN: Yeah, I can't remember where we stayed, but it was fun being out here at the golf tournament.
MALCOLM BOOTH: John, thanks very much for joining us.

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