HAVING spent several years in the golfing wilderness, David James is relishing the prospect of making a return to competitive action on the European Senior Tour after winning the Qualifying School Final in Portugal.
The Scot, who closed with a round of 68 for a ten-under aggregate total at the Pestana Resort, will be joined on the over-50s circuit this season by England’s Simon Brown, Spain’s José Manuel Carriles, American Robert Thompson, South African Hendrik Buhrmann and Canadian Phil Jonas, all of whom claimed full cards.
Having yo-yoed between the European and Challenge Tours for several seasons, 50-year-old James effectively retired from professional competition, and subsequently tried his hand at teaching, working at a driving range and even as a course designer. But the competitive fires returned when he got involved with the Senior Golf Circuit, with his five victories persuading him to enter the Senior Tour Qualifying School.
He missed out in 2012 but returned this year and, after finishing in a tie for third place at last week’s First Stage, made no mistake second time around to breathe new life into a professional career which he had feared was over.
“I’m really excited about getting out on the Senior Tour, hence why I put so much effort into trying to qualify,” said the man who reached the final of both the British and Scottish Amateur Championships in 1985. I don’t really know what to expect, so it will be a completely new experience for me and one I’m really looking forward to.”
On the Challenge Tour, Andrew McArthur and Wallace Booth got off to encouraging starts in the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India – the circuit’s first event of 2013. Five birdies in the opening six holes helped McArthur, winner of the inaugural Paul Lawrie Invitational two years ago, to an opening five-under 67, to sit in joint second, one behind Spaniard Agustin Domingo.
“I have done a lot of work since the middle of last year on my putting,” said McArthur. “I was struggling and I went to [putting coach] Phil Kenyon for some help and it has made the world of difference in terms of my confidence.”
Booth, playing his first event since graduating to the second-tier circuit, bagged six birdies in his 68 to sit joint fourth, just ahead of George Murray after he carded a 69.
In Turkey, David Law began well in his bid to complete back-to-back wins on the Pro Golf Tour. Fresh from his victory in the Sueno Links Classic earlier in the week, the Aberdonian carded a four-under 68 at the same venue’s links layout in Belek to earn a share of second spot, four shots off the hot pace set by Swiss star Ken Benz.