James Kingston is just two years away from being able to ply his trade on the seniors circuits, but his share of sixth in the BMW PGA Championship showed there is plenty of fight in the old warhorse yet.
After a forgettable 2012 on the Sunshine Tour – just two top-20 finishes saw him finish 43rd on the Order of Merit for his lowest finish on the money list since 1992 – he finds himself in 10th position after winning the Investec Royal Swazi Open for his first local victory since 2010.
It was also a quiet 2012 on the European Tour, where his best finish of a share of ninth in Morocco was counter-balanced by 12 missed cuts as he finished 135th in the Race to Dubai.
So he has had limited opportunities on the European Tour this year, but he has grabbed the chances that came his way through the South African events to grab three top 20s – and then came his successful weekend at Wentworth.
It boosted him 69th in the 2013 Race to Dubai – and all from a tournament for which he relied on a sponsor’s invitation to compete.
“Just to get in to this event that way was an honour,” said Kingston. “It’s just such a big event on the schedule.”
The invitation was also an indication of the respect the European Tour and its sponsors have for Kingston.
He repaid the faith shown in him handsomely: “To come out and shoot 6 in the first round was unbelievable. On the second day we probably got the worst weather I’ve ever played in, and it felt like I had gotten myself out of the tournament. But then I followed it with two decent rounds, and finishing birdie-birdie-birdie – it’s nice to see my name up there,” he said.
It was nice for his fans in South Africa too – and there are plenty of them. It also didn’t hurt his cause that he matched Ernie Els for the best performance by a South African for the week.
“I saw Ernie’s name up there, and I always said to myself that if I can ever tie Ernie or beat him, I’m doing well,” he said.
That kind of performance will go a long way to ensuring he can play on the European Tour for a while yet. “I had an unbelievable day and an awesome week, and hopefully this result takes me close to retaining my card. There are still a couple of tournaments left this year, but I think I’ve done most of the hard work this week,” he said.
He didn’t get into the Nordea Masters in Sweden this week – but that’s good for his local fans as he will play in the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland before heading back to Europe again.