John Senden, a two-time PGA Tour winner who played this year on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, says he has Parkinson’s disease.
The 52-year-old from Australia revealed the diagnosis during this week’s Australian PGA Championship, where he shot rounds of two-over 73 and 71 before missing the cut by a stroke. Senden told ABC Sport that he has battled Parkinson’s symptoms for 18 months and that he plans to continue playing.
“I’ve got to stay in the gym, stay fit and stay open, because Parkinson’s wants to close you down, wants to make you feel a bit more depressed,” Senden told ABC Sport.
“I’ve got to stay playing, stay light-hearted about everything. It doesn’t actually undermine my strength; it just sort of makes me feel a bit weird sometimes.”
Parkinson’s disease, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Tremors are common, and the disease may also cause stiffness and slowness of movement. There is no known cure.
This year, Senden played 19 events on the Champions tour, with one top 25, in early October at the Furyk and Friends tournament. He finished No. 83 on the circuit’s season-long standings.
Senden told ABC Sport that he’s managing his tremors.
“I can be on the range warming up and feeling really good,” he told ABC Sport, “but as soon as the anticipation of hitting the first shot or a difficult shot or even the name called on the first tee, all of a sudden my right arm starts shaking and I can’t control that sometimes. I sort of stretch it or trigger it or get some bigger movements to get through this.
“It’s not going to go away, but I’m still able to play and still enjoying golf.”
Senden started PGA Tour play in 2002. He won twice — at the 2006 John Deere Classic and at the 2014 Valspar Championship — made 320 cuts in 481 starts and earned over $21 million in prize money. He’s also won four times internationally, including at the 2006 Australian Open.
In the ABC Sport story, Senden said he was being inspired by his son, Jacob, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2017, at age 13. This week, the younger Senden caddied for his dad at the Australian PGA.
“There was some time back then when we didn’t know whether he was going to make it,” Senden told the Australia PGA’s website on Wednesday.
“Being together this week has definitely been an inspiration for me especially, and for other kids out there watching him grow over the last six years. He’s got stronger and stronger every year with great doctors and great medical in the U.S. and also another couple of doctors out here in Australia.
“He’s been looking good and feeling like he needs to take it by the horns now and go and live his life.”