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James claims victory in Players Tour flagship event
FORMER British Amateur champion Lee James underlined his dominance of this year’s Players Tour with victory in the flagship event at Celtic Manor last Friday.
The 40-year-old Dorset Golf and Country Club professional took his order of merit earnings to more than £10,000 with his £1,000 prize money in the Tour Championship tournament.
James, who has earned £6,000 more than his nearest money-list rival, carded a four-under-par 64 for a one-shot victory over runner-up Andrew Cheese (Sutton Coldfield).
Cheese, however, gained his revenge with a victory over James in the final of the Players Tour Matchplay Championship at Woburn on Monday.
“It’s disappointing to lose the final event of the year. But I’ve had a good season with 31 top-five finishes out of 41 events which included seven Players Tour victories,” said James, who also won two TP Tour competitions in 2013, including one at Remedy Oak in August.
The ex-Walker Cup star, who was paired with Jack Nicklaus in the 1995 US Masters, has plied his trade on the smaller British-based tours since losing his European Tour privileges six years ago.
The most poignant win in 2013 for James, however, was his fourth successive Dorset Open success at Dudsbury in April which he dedicated to his father Les who passed away last year.
“My dad had enjoyed watching me win the first three, so it was important to me to win again in his memory,” explained James.
James, a five-time European Challenge Tour winner, has split his time in the summer playing tournaments and holding down a job at Marks and Spencer in Bournemouth.
“It’s back to full-time working at the store over the winter before I decide my golfing schedule for next year,” he added.
“I would like to play the Europro, but that would mean having to get sponsorship, which is never an easy business. I am more likely to do the same as this year, although I have never given up hope of having another attempt at the European Tour.”
Fellow Dorset professionals Luke Joy (Broadstone) and Kevin Garwood (Parkstone) both experienced lean times on the more prestigious PGA Europro Tour after successfully qualifying for the series in April.
Joy, who won £2,500 for winning one Jamega Tour competition, earned just £1,687 from 12 events to finish the order of merit in 77th, while Garwood won £1,045 from eight tournaments and finished in 92nd place.
First prize in most of the PGA Europro Tour events was £10,000 with the top-five on the money list receiving their European Challenge Tour cards for 2014.
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