Golf: James takes flight with birdie barrage

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The Independent Online
MARK JAMES won the Tenerife Open yesterday to go top of the European money list. The 39- year-old Ryder Cup player had six shots in hand for his second victory on the Tour in four weeks, having previously triumphed in the Madeira Open.

From the moment he birdied the short second with a 10-foot putt, James simply raced away from the field. He began the day only one shot ahead of Eamonn Darcy and two ahead of Christy O'Connor Jnr, but a last round of 66 for a four-round aggregate of 275, 13 under par, left him in complete control.

James said after the final 18 holes: 'I hit every green and I cannot remember ever playing four rounds better. I only hit two shots that did not go right down the middle and they were only just a bit off line. I didn't even have to putt at all well because I put everything so close.'

The South African De Wet Basson, who started the day four shots behind James, hung on well to record a 68 and finish second on 281. For the two Irishmen, Darcy and O'Connor, though, it was a day of disappointment.

Darcy, in spite of a two-over par 74, finished third on 284. As for O'Connor, he could manage only a shattering 80 after having three double bogeys - at the third, fourth and 13th holes. His outward 43 was the worst he had played for years.

The Ilkley-based James won pounds 58,330 to jump from fifth to first in the European money list with pounds 101,990 and is now fourth in the Ryder Cup points table behind Barry Lane, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie.

However, James, who has already played in five Ryder Cups, refused to make any predictions about making the team for the match against the United States at The Belfry in September. 'Obviously I would like to make the team,' he said. 'I'd also like to win 12 majors. But it's pointless setting yourself targets and I shall just try to play as well as I can in every tournament.'

James, who had six birdies yesterday, added: 'When you start with four birdies in six holes you have no pressure. It is much easier to shoot a 66 than a 74.'

Darcy, who has been struggling against back trouble, said: 'I had all the bad breaks going. But on this tricky course anything can happen.'

TENERIFE OPEN (Golf Del Sur) Leading final scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 275 M James 71 69 69 66 ( pounds 58,330). 281 D W Basson (SA) 71 70 72 68 ( pounds 38,880). 284 E Darcy 69 76 65 74 ( pounds 21,910). 285 S Ames (Tri) 77 74 67 67, E Romero (Arg) 72 73 71 69, A Murray 74 71 68 72 ( pounds 14,860 each). 286 W Riley (Aus) 74 72 73 67 ( pounds 10,500). 287 A Bossert (Swi) 77 74 69 67, D A Russell 73 74 72 68 ( pounds 8,285 each). 288 P Mitchell 74 74 70 70, J Quiros (Sp) 75 72 71 70, D Ray 74 72 70 72, J Rozadilla (Sp) 72 78 65 73, B Lane 75 72 69 72, D Gilford 71 73 70 74. 289 M McLean 68 77 75 69, D Curry 77 72 69 71, P Fulke (Swe) 75 73 70 71, S Luna (Sp) 74 74 69 72, S Struver (Ger) 71 74 72 72. 290 J Coceres (Arg) 72 74 79 65, J Van De Velde (Fra) 72 78 74 66, J Hall 77 72 75 66, D Cooper 73 71 74 72.

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TABLE (1 point for every pounds 1 won): 1 B Lane 253,271.45 pts; 2 N Faldo 228,527.50; 3 C Montgomerie 216,525.94; 4 M James 175,412.41; 5 S Lyle 172,109.01; 6 B Langer (Ger) 154,944.34; 7 M-A Jimenez (Sp) 153,948.18; 8 J Spence 147,550.15; 9 M Roe 129,931.27; 10 S Richardson 125,321; 11 A Forsbrand (Swe) 95,921.40; 12 I Woosnam 93,852.71.

EUROPEAN ORDER OF MERIT: 1 M James pounds 101,990; 2 N Faldo pounds 95,325; 3 W Westner (SA) pounds 72,765; 4 C Montgomerie pounds 66,273.33; 5 R Goosen (SA) pounds 48,847.86; 6 D Basson (SA) pounds 41,767.50.

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