James crosses pond for major win

Posted: Monday, July 12, 2004

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Mark James shot a 1-over 73 and held off Jose Maria Canizares for a one-stroke victory Sunday at the Senior Players Championship.

James finished at 13-under 275 and is the first European to win a Champions Tour major.

Canizares struggled on the back nine and made double bogey at Nos. 14 and 17 in a 1-under 71, finishing at 12-under 276.

Bruce Fleisher (71) finished third at 11 under, and Bruce Lietzke (71) was fourth, another stroke back. Gary McCord (74) and Dana Quigley (72) tied for fifth at 9 under.

James, who captained Europe's 1999 Ryder Cup team at Brookline, became the sixth player to make the Players Championship his first Champions Tour victory.

A Ryder Cup player seven times from 1977-95 and winner of 22 tournaments overseas, James last won at the 1997 Peugeot Open De Espana.

James, a senior rookie, finished third at the Bayer Advantage Celebrity Pro-Am last month. He also tied for fourth at the Senior PGA Championship in May.

James opened with three strong rounds a 68 and two 67s and played just well enough on a hot, muggy afternoon at the TPC of Michigan to win the over-50 circuit's second major of the season and first of three straight.

James also caught a break on Saturday when Quigley, his playing partner and co-leader, ruined a strong round with a quadruple bogey at the par-5 17th.

James started the final round with a three-stroke lead, the largest going into Sunday in the tournament since 1999, and was ahead by at least two shots until he bogeyed No. 9 and fell to 14 under.

That allowed Canizares to pull within a stroke. Moments later, he birdied No. 10 to move into a tie for the lead at 14 under.

James, playing just behind Canizares in the final group, moved back into the lead with a birdie at No. 10. At the 13th, Canizares again tied it with a birdie, but made double bogey on the next hole.

James squandered a two-shot cushion by making a bogey at the 14th.

After Canizares birdied 16 to again pull into a tie, James bogeyed the same hole to drop out of the lead and fall to 13 under.

Canizares tried to play safe at the 17th, but still found the water. He ended up with a double bogey, his second in four holes, and fell one shot back at 12 under.

Defending champion Craig Stadler finished 3 under, tied for 18th. He starting strong with rounds of 70 and 67, but closed poorly, shooting 73 and 75 on the weekend.

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