England’s Mark James completed an outstanding debut in the US Senior PGA Championship by finishing in a tie for fourth place at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky. The former Ryder Cup captain fired a final round two under par 69, which was the joint lowest round of the day, to finish six strokes behind winner Hale Irwin of the United States.
Irwin birdied the final hole to beat compatriot Jay Haas by a stroke to win the tournament for the fourth time. It was an exciting end to a long Championship which had been stretched to Monday due to numerous delays caused by heavy rain and lightning.
In what was the first Major of the season on the seniors’ international schedule, James finished the tournament on two under par 282 along with American Tom Watson and Canadian Dave Barr.
The Englishman could have claimed fourth position outright but for a double bogey on the par five 18th. Nevertheless it was a memorable final round for the 50 year old who fired six birdies and two bogeys.
James is a rookie on the US Champions Tour this year and his finish at Valhalla is his best result so far. Prior to the Championship he had played in six events and recorded one top ten finish.
He was one of 17 members of the European Seniors Tour competing. Another member to perform with distinction was Ireland’s Mark McNulty who ended in equal seventh place, one stroke behind James.
McNulty, who was also making his maiden start in the Championship, carded a 71 thanks to birdies on 16 and 18.
Another debutant Sam Torrance from Scotland closed with a 74 to finish equal 38th while Ireland’s Eamonn Darcy was 41st.
The Seniors Tour heads to Ireland this week for AIB Irish Seniors Open at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort.