IT’S one of the event’s iconic images. Sam Torrance standing on the 18th green at the Belfry in 1985 with his arms raised skywards after rolling in an 18-foot putt to win back the Ryder Cup for Europe for the first time since 1957.
In terms of pressure, though, it was a walk in the park compared to the six-footer Martin Kaymer holed two years ago to retain the trophy in Chicago. Who says so? Torrance.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than holing the putt he did at Medinah,” said the Largs man, who was speaking on behalf of Standard Life Investments, worldwide partner of the Ryder Cup.
“He knows exactly what was going on and was man enough to stand up and knock that in. I had three putts to win. I don’t think I could have holed his putt. I think I’d have blown it. He didn’t. He was awesome.”
While blowing a bit hot and cold at times, Kaymer is heading into this Ryder Cup with two big wins under his belt this season – first claiming the Players Championship then adding the second major of his career with a runaway success in the US Open.
“What Martin has achieved is incredible because his game was gone for a spell,” added Torrance. “He tried to start drawing the ball after winning the US PGA and his game just seemed to go.
“But, having met him on numerous occasions, he is one of the nicest young men I’ve come across. He’s also very smart and to see him come back to where he is now is fantastic.”
When he led Europe to victory at the Belfry in 2002, Torrance sent Colin Montgomerie, ‘Mr Ryder Cup’ at the time, out first in the singles and watched him crush Scott Hoch.
It’s Ian Poulter who is wearing that cape these days and Torrance is looking for the Englishman to be inspired once again when he pulls on the European sweater in Perthshire this week.
“Poulter loves the stage and he has the game to back it up,” he said. “I didn’t like what he did on the first tee with Bubba Watson [when the Englishman urged the crowd to keep cheering as he teed off at Medinah after watching Watson do the same thing]. But it was so typical of him that I didn’t mind it. I didn’t like it but because it was him I didn’t mind it and knew he could back it up.
“What he did on that Saturday night, though, with those five birdies [in the last five holes] was incredible. Then he goes out in the singles and goes two down but comes back and wins – incredible.”