With Presidents Cup aspirations looming large among other major incentives this week, John Senden put himself under extra pressure by making an erratic start to the Tour Championship on Thursday.
The 40-year-old Australian, who has set his sights on making a dream Presidents Cup debut at Royal Melbourne in November, carded a three-over-par 73 in the opening round to lie a distant nine strokes off the pace.
John Senden of Australia hits off the fourth tee during round one of the Tour Championship PGA golf tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, September 22, 2011.
That left him with plenty of work to do in his multiple bid to triumph at East Lake Golf Club on Sunday, clinch the lucrative FedExCup and also book his place on Greg Norman's International team in his native Australia.
"I've just got to do what I gotta do this week, and what I've got to do tomorrow," Senden told Reuters after mixing a triple-bogey at the third with two bogeys and two birdies.
"That's all I think about. There's lots going on for every single player this week and everyone's got to handle it.
"And the best way to handle it is to concentrate on what you're doing with your own game right at this present point which, for me, is getting organized in my mind ready and set for tomorrow."
Buoyed by a superb runner-up finish at the BMW Championship on Sunday, Senden came into this week a lofty ninth in the FedExCup standings with the chance to win the playoff title and its $10 million bonus.
He was also among a handful of contenders for the final two spots on Norman's 12-man team for the ninth Presidents Cup against the United States from November 17-20.
"It would be a dream," Senden said of his quest to play in the Ryder Cup-style Presidents Cup. "It would be fantastic, especially with Greg Norman as our captain and Royal Melbourne is our number one golf course.
"Playing with your friends and family probably watching, that would be fabulous. It's certainly very high up on the scale of things I want to do."
Senden is vying with compatriots Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley, Fiji's Vijay Singh, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Rory Sabbatini, and Colombian Camilo Villegas for Norman's two wildcard picks.
Norman is scheduled to announce those selections on Tuesday but, for the moment, Senden knows he needs to focus on playing as well as he can at East Lake.
"I've just got to do my job as best as I can and if I get lucky enough to be picked for the Presidents Cup, that would be a feather in the cap," he said after ending the first round joint 28th in the elite field of 30.
"I need to concentrate on the issues of the process to get a good round in tomorrow. My goal is to hopefully get back into the red numbers (under par).
"It wasn't the greatest of starts today and I feel a bit disappointed with that," added Senden, who ended his round on a good note by rolling in a seven-foot birdie putt at the last.
"But this golf course suits me so I am looking forward to tomorrow."