El­ton James rolling in the birdie putts

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE DE BRUYN

EL­TON JAMES has teed it up in two events on the Western Prov­ince Premier Ama­teur Tour for one win and a sec­ond.

The for­mer KwaZulu-Natal­ian, who plays out of West­lake Golf Club, opened his cam­paign on his home course with a run­ner-up fin­ish to Chris Wicks and then fol­lowed it up with a facile vic­tory in the At­lantic Beach Open last weekend.

Wicks has played in all four events, won once and tops the over­all points ag­gre­gate with 250.

Dean Pilk­ing­ton (Bel­lville) is 54 points off the pace in sec­ond ahead with Pi­etie Loub­ser (West­lake) round­ing off the podium on 185.5 points.

James, whose brother is for­mer Spring­bok Butch James (who plays off a three hand­i­cap), lies in 12th place, 101.5 points off the pace.

“I’ve had a great start to the PAT and am aim­ing to be the cham­pion this year,” said James.

“Chris is set­ting the early pace and no doubt wants to chal­lenge for the over­all ti­tle.

“There are still 12 events be­fore the cham­pion is de­cided in early De­cem­ber and I’ll be try­ing to play in as many of them to im­prove my chances of go­ing all the way.”

James, 41, cer­tainly has ex­pe­ri­ence on his side.

He has rep­re­sented South Africa at mid-ama­teur level and boasts a run­ner-up fin­ish at the 2015 SA Mid-Ama­teur cham­pi­onship.

Last year he cap­tained the WP Open team on debut at the In­ter-provin­cials and more than held his own in what turned out to be a be­low­par team ef­fort for the for­mer mul­ti­ple win­ners.

James has been viewed as a bit of a “nervy” fin­isher by his ri­vals but those times seem to be behind the big hit­ter.

“I’m not buy­ing that per­cep­tion,” said James, who only started play­ing com­pet­i­tively nine years ago.

“Yes, I’ve blown it a cou­ple of times when in the as­cen­dancy in big tournaments, but golf is a game that tests you to the limit and the most im­por­tant les­son is to limit mak­ing the same mis­takes over and over again, and I think I’ve been do­ing that of late.

“So to any de­trac­tors, keep an eye on the ball be­cause that’s what I’ll be do­ing.

“As for my game right now, it is pretty good in all as­pects although there is work to be done on bits and pieces,” James added. “I’ve got a new put­ter and am mak­ing good putts, which is pleas­ing.

“The long game ball-strik­ing has been solid which sets one up to at­tack the pins with con­fi­dence; I needed only 14 putts in the open­ing round at At­lantic Beach. So it’s all sys­tems go come the next tour­ney.”

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