MARK JAMES, the 1999 European Ryder Cup captain and Yorkshire’s most successful professional of the past 30 years, will play at Fixby next week.
In what is billed as a celebration day to mark Parnell Reilly’s captaincy of the PGA, James will link up in one of the teams in a quad-am on Thursday with Reilly, the head professional at Bradley Park, and Fixby scratch team members Richard Broadley – the Halifax, Huddersfield Union champion – and Brad Tupman, the Union Strokeplay champion as winner of the PS Cockroft Trophy.
Reilly, just back from attending the Ryder Cup in Kentucky as part of the official European party and who was elected PGA captain for a two-year stint in 2007, was first involved in golf as a boy caddie at the Huddersfield club where he is now an honorary member.
The PGA captaincy rotates round the seven GB & Ireland regions of the PGA in turn, therefore it will be at least 12 years before another North region professional has the honour, let alone a local professional.
The previous PGA captain from Huddersfield was Charles Hughes, the retired Woodsome Hall professional, in 1986.
Ilkley-based James won 18 titles in a 25-year career on the European Tour, earning over £3.5m. His first victory in 1978 was the Sun Alliance Matchplay championship and his last, in 1997, the Peugeot Spanish Open. He won the Dunhill British Masters and twice claimed the NM English Open. Four times he has finished in the top five of the Open Championship.
He was a member of seven Ryder Cup teams, captained the team at Brookline, Massachusetts, in a match that ended in controversy over the behaviour of some American players as Europe were beaten, and was a vice-captain to Sam Torrance when the Ryder Cup was regained at The Belfry in 2002, the 2001 match having been postponed due to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America.
He also played on seven Dunhill Cup teams and represented England in the World Cup on 10 occasions.
James, 55 next month, joined the Champions Tour in the United States on reaching 50 and became the first European to win a major on that seniors circuit, the Ford Senior Players Championship in 2004. He won the ACE Group Classic the following season, the Allianz Championship in 2007 and to date is closing in on $3m in earnings.
He is also a member of the European Seniors Tour where he plays infrequently due to commitments in the States. He won the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters at Woburn where he beat Torrance in a play-off.
The Fixby event and an auction of memorabilia will raise funds for cancer research. James was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, undergoing chemotherapy and surgery then making a comeback to competing in May the following year at the PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Andy Whitworth may have missed adding to his record tally of victories in the Halifax, Huddersfield Union championship but he was back to winning ways in the Bradley Hall Scratch Cup.
He didn’t fancy his chances when he opened with a 75, five shots back from leader Andy Shaw and with Martin Cockroft, Paul Taylor and Jim Fairhurst also ahead of him.
But as Shaw ran up a triple bogey at the par five 16th and the others fell back, Whitworth found his A-game.
He roared in with a second round 70 and his 145 total pushed Shaw into second place, a shot adrift.
145 - A Whitworth 75 70. 146 - A Shaw 70 76. 147 - P Taylor 73 74, M Cockcroft 72 75.