Tor­rance re­flects on a life less or­di­nary

Scot pre­dicts Lee West­wood will re­take No.1 spot with ma­jor dou­ble, writes Nick Rodger

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Golf, Tennis -

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

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