Torrance reflects on a life less ordinary
Scot predicts Lee Westwood will retake No.1 spot with major double, writes Nick Rodger
THERE was a lot going on back in 1972. A financially stable Rangers lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup, a gallon of petrol cost 32 pence, The Joy of Sex was published. And Sam Torrance won his first professional title.
“It was the Lord Derby under-25s Matchplay at Birkdale,” reflected this celebrated son of Largs.
“40 years eh? God almighty. I beat Mr Gallacher [Bernard] in the semis. I had two putts on the last green from 10 feet to win it and the miserable git still never gave me it!”
Fast forward those 40 years and Torrance was picking up another prize as his accomplishments over four decades in the game were recognised with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Annodata Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow last night.
And there have been plenty of achievements since he took the plunge into the paid ranks at the tender age of 16 in 1970.
He has plundered 21 European Tour titles, 11 European Senior Tour crowns and has played in eight Ryder Cups, a run that was illuminated in 1985, when he holed the winning putt at The Belfry.
His glittering career reached its peak in 2002 when he returned to The Belfry, the spiritual home of the transatlantic tussle, and skippered Europe to a memorable triumph.
“The captaincy was the highlight of everything I’ve ever done,” added the 58-yearold, who will resume his over-50s duties at the end of May in the US Senior PGA Championship in Michigan.
“I’m looking forward to the first event of the new season just as much as I was 40 years ago. I think that’s testament to the game of golf.”
At the peak of his playing powers in the 1980s, Torrance was going head-to-head with the ‘Big Five’ of European golf, namely Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer.
As golf on this side of the Atlantic enjoys a new era of dominance – Luke Donald spearheads a European one-two-three-four on the world rankings – Torrance is optimistic for the season ahead.
Asked to peer into his golfing crystal ball, the Scot responded by predicting that Lee Westwood, No.3 in that quartet, will finally end his major misery and step on to the winner’s podium in 2012.
The Englishman has had six top-three finishes in the grand slam events since 2008. With Graeme Mcdowell, Darren Clarke and Rory Mcilory all landing majors in the last two years, Torrance is convinced the old pals’ act will drive Westwood on.
“After Graeme won, Darren drove into Portrush and there was a big sign saying, ‘Welcome to Portrush, Home of US Open champion Graeme Mcdowell’.” suggested Torrance.
“I really think that spurred Darren on to win the Open last year and I think that will happen to Westwood.
“You’re watching your mates winning majors, and he will feel ‘if they can do it, I can do it’. That’s why European golf is so strong. I think Lee will win two majors this year for that reason. From tee to green he is just phenomenal.”
Sam Torrance won a Lifetime Achievement award at the Annodata Scottish Golf Awards. Picture: Kenny Smith