Former Ryder Cup captain Mark James will make his first outing of the season when he joins the illustrious cast at the De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall.
James, who captained Europe at Brookline in 1999, is the latest big name to confirm he will be playing in the north east event from June 9-12.
The £250,000 tournament is FREE to spectators who can download their ticket at www.devere.co.uk/pga-seniors
James is back on the European Senior Tour looking to add to an impressive career haul that includes18 European Tour titles, four top five Open Championship finishes and seven Ryder Cup appearances and captaincy.
The Englishman is relishing the chance to cross swords with old rivals Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam, who along with the late Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer formed Europe’s famous ‘Big Five’.
“Sandy and Ian were massive, and Sandy was the guy that broke the British major drought with his Open win in 1985,” he added.
“And Ian was World Number One for a while, won the Masters and from tee to green was the best ball striker for many years.
“But I think the great thing about both of them is that despite all their success they never changed as people.”
James also paid tribute to Ballesteros whose recent sad death from cancer sparked a flood of memories of the great Spaniard.
“Seve was amazingly charismatic and in his prime when he was coming down the 18th needing say a birdie to win all the pros would go out to watch him first hand.
“I remember watching him when he needed a birdie to win and he chipped in. He was just an amazing player.”
“I’ve also got some great memories from the Ryder Cup where he was always a great inspiration.
“He would always take the younger or more inexperienced players like Paul Way and David Gilford under his wing and he was great with all the team members.”
James shared many great Ryder Cup moments, rating his favourite the victory at Oak Hill in New York in 1995.
“We were warned the New York crowd could be a handful but actually they were fantastic and to come from behind and win on the last day was special especially as no-one expected us to win.”
And another victory will be on his mind when he tees up at the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course.
“There’s no question I feel capable of winning but there are a lot of good players,” he added.
“The European Senior Tour is underrated and any spectators who come along will see some extremely good golf. Many of the players could still compete on the regular tour if they chose.”
Daniel Hodson, Director of Golf, Leisure and Spa for De Vere, commented: “The addition of Mark James, a former Ryder Cup player and captain, adds even more depth to the stellar field that we’ll host at next months’ De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship.
“I'm sure Mark will relish the challenge of the Hunting Course which has always proved to be a great test.
“He’ll be in distinguished company alongside former Masters Champions Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle and I'm sure it will be another fantastic week of golf at Slaley Hall.”
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