Golf: Ryder Cup captain on song in Spain

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The Independent Online
EUROPEAN CAPTAIN Mark James showed all the Ryder Cup hopefuls how it should be done with a brilliant second place finish in the Madeira Island Open.

The 45-year-old from Ilkley fired a superb final round 67 to finish just a stroke behind Spain's Pedro Linhart, who held his nerve to shoot a closing 71 for a 12-under total of 276 and win his maiden European Tour title and the pounds 58,328 first prize.

James promised there would be no easing off in the next few months, despite the pressures on him leading up to the 33rd Ryder Cup against the United States in Boston in September. "I'll keep playing well every week," said James, who pocketed pounds 38,878 as runner-up.

James raced to the turn in four-under 32 and found himself tied for the lead when Linhart, playing in the group behind, bogeyed the seventh and eighth.

From then on there was never more than a shot between the pair, Linhart regaining the lead on the ninth before another James birdie brought them level again.

The key hole proved to be the 17th, James holing a 20ft birdie putt to join Linhart on 11 under, but, as he stood outside the clubhouse, the Spaniard produced a birdie of his own to take the crucial one-shot lead.

Swindon's David Howell tightened his grip on the European number one spot with his third-place finish, the pounds 22,000 prize money increasing the 23-year-old's lead at the top of the Order of Merit and moving him up from eighth to seventh in the Ryder Cup points table.

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