This week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai is officially the final event, for the time being at least, under the European Tour banner. For the 2022 campaign, which marks the 50th anniversary of the circuit being founded, it will be called the DP World Tour.
David Williams, the tour’s chairman, said the re-naming had “not been taken lightly”, but money talks and the circuit is set to be handed a huge financial boost over the next decade, starting with a record prize pot next season of more than £200 million.
“This is the final week and there’s going to be no European Tour any more,” Torrance, one of its legendary figures, told The Scotsman in an interview through golf betting experts BoyleSports.com that covered the DP World Tour development but also the Ryder Cup, the remarkable Bernhard Langer and a typically honest assessment of his own game.
“It is sad in certain ways, but I can honestly say that I don’t think there has ever been a better time to hold a full European Tour card. What a move by Keith Pelley and his team. This is amazing for world golf, not just European golf. It’s extraordinary and I was delighted to hear about it and read about it.
“I can’t see this failing at all, but it will change the face of what we used to know as the European Tour because there are going to be so many opportunities for more great players around the world joining the DP World Tour."
The 68-year-old, who described the current state of Scottish golf heading into a new era as “rosy”, added: “I’ve not been involved with the tour now for a number of years, so it’s just been snippets that I was hearing and there was talk of America buying out Europe, but I never foresaw this and this is the best move they could have made. It’s a wonderful place to be right now. This is a huge development for European golf.”
The boost is timely in a Ryder Cup context. Still hurting after suffering a record defeat at Whistling Straits in September, Europe will see an exciting crop of young players given the best possible chance to get themselves ready for the 2023 match in Rome.
“They weren’t just good; they were the best I’ve seen,” said Torrance, an eight-time Ryder Cup player and a winning captain at The Belfry in 2002, in heaping praise on the Americans for their Wisconsin win under Steve Stricker’s leadership. “They were extraordinary and you could almost see it before it started.
“It’s the changing of the guard in the European team. We are losing the Justin Roses, the Lee Westwoods, the Ian Poulters - these fantastic servants to the Ryder Cup team. I’m not saying it’s over for all of them yet, but it’s certainly coming to an end and, of course, we’ve got the Hojgaard twins - Rasmus and Nicolai - Viktor Hovland, Guido Migliozzi and a couple of Scots boys as well.
“It’s awesome and it’s exciting that there is this changing of the guard. They may not win in Italy, but they may come through there. And there’s no scar tissue with these kids, as was the case with the American team that did so well at Whistling Straits.
“It was their turn. Their guard has changed. They’ve got a team of youngsters and it’s funny to see that someone like Patrick Reed isn’t a youngster anymore. When he first came on the scene, he was the first one I’d seen with a different attitude like, ‘I don’t give a s*** who you are’, and that’s the attitude you need.
“I’ve never been an advocate when the Americans finally win one and people say, ‘that’s good for the Ryder Cup’. That’s bollocks. But it’s a shake up for Europe and it was a shake up that was coming.
“We’ve had some incredible servants over the years, but there are a number who might not come back again, so we need youth to come through and they are coming through with flying colours.”
At the opposite end of the age ladder, Langer continues to prove competitive at the age of 64. On Saturday, he beat his age with a 63 in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The following day, he had secured a sixth Charles Schwab Cup success as the Champions Tour No 1.
“What a man,” said Torrance, laughing heartily. “He almost withdrew with a back injury the first two days then he shoots 63 on Saturday, breaking his age for the first time and certainly not the last time.
“He put himself in with a chance to win the event. But, in the end, he did what he went there to do, which was to win the Charles Schwab Cup for the sixth time. At the age of 64, that is phenomenal.”
Like Torrance, Langer needed a long putter to prolong his career. “Because of his putting, you couldn’t see it early doors,” said the Scot in reply to being asked if he’d seen something special about Langer from early in their careers. “I remember playing in the PGA Championship at Hillside when he putted it off the green from 15 feet with a flat putt, knocking it 20 feet past the hole.
“I’m the one that came out and started using the long putter, so I know what he was going through, but the fact he’s still there winning 40 years later is amazing. He’s an icon; he’s extraordinary. He’s one of the fittest men you’ll come across and one of the most healthy. His self discipline is beyond belief.”
While Langer continues to defy Old Father Time, Torrance almost sounded a tad embarrassed when talk turned to his own game. “I’ve not had a pencil in my hand for over three years and I will never ever ever have a pencil in my hand again,” said the 21-time European Tour winner and 11-time European Senior Tour champion.
“I’m playing two or three times a week at Sunningdale with my mates and I’m not enjoying it at all. I’m completely s*** and I promise you I am. I think I am playing off three and I need to play off nine. That’s not a word of a lie.
“I’ve had the most incredible life in golf, including fantastic memories like winning the Dunhill Links team event with my son Daniel in 2003, and I can’t get over myself because of that, which means I can’t enjoy playing crap.”