Yet he virtually ruled himself out of making the European team again even though he is in 21st place in the Ryder Cup points table. Victory here would catapault him into ninth spot.
James, three strokes behind the Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, who shot 67 yesterday for a 10-under-par 132, said: "I'm not even remotely in the running for the Ryder Cup team so I'm not even thinking about it. I think you need at least 350,000 points and I would have to win here and then another pounds 100,000."
Ilkley-based James, as a winner of 18 Tour events, including the Spanish Open less than two months ago, seems over-pessimistic, with 11 counting tournaments before the team is chosen.
Despite his good round it was really an unlucky day for James. He holed in one at the 194-yard eighth hole with a five-iron, his first ace in a European Tour event, but picked the wrong hole. Had he holed out at the short 17th, he would have won a pounds 20,000 Volvo car. His ace yesterday earned him only a handshake from Ian Woosnam and Sven Struver, his playing partners.
As for the two majors winners in the field, Bernhard Langer, seeking a 10th Tour victory in his native Germany, shot 69 for 139, seven off the pace, and Ian Woosnam also shot 69 for 140.Reuse content