ACCIDENTS normally spell bad news for Sam Torrance. After all, we are talking about a man that almost missed out on a Ryder Cup after walking into a plant pot at The Belfry and fractured his sternum, damaged ankle tendons in a kerb collision in Dubai and couldn’t defend his French Open title due to a rib injury.
His catalogue of mishaps over the years, in fact, make you wonder if he carries a first-aid kit in his golf bag.
For once, however, falling over has, albeit in a roundabout way, put a smile on Torrance’s face. After fretting for six months over a niggling groin problem, he’s been told it’s nothing more than a trapped nerve. It’s given him welcome peace of mind heading into the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open starting today at Archerfield Links, where he’s being partnered by his son, Daniel, in the pro-am section.
Whether that combination can repeat their memorable success in the 2003 Dunhill Links at St Andrews remains to be seen – dad, after all, has had a poor season and son, a 15-year-old back then and totally fearless, was never really able to use it as a springboard for his own career – but the most important thing for Torrance heading into the £250,000 event is that a weight has been taken off his mind.
“After going through a nightmare with an injury I’ve had for six months, I’ve finally got to the bottom of what’s been wrong,” said the newly-turned 62-year-old. “It’s a trapped nerve here [in the groin area] and it goes right down the leg. It only affects me when I’m standing up but it was pretty sinister, to be honest. They thought I might have a stress fracture in the hips but they were perfect. Not getting to the bottom of it was very worrying. Was it muscular? Was it MS? I didn’t know. But it’s just a trapped nerve.
“It was extraordinary how we found out. My leg gave way and I fell, hitting the back of my head. I went to see a neurologist and he asked me how it happened. I said my ‘leg gave way but that’s another story’ and he said ‘what?’ He said we can look at that. He gave me an ECG and, after three minutes, he said ‘I think I know what this is’ and I was a bit like ‘are you sure because I’ve had this for six months’.
“He put this electrical thing right in near my hip and buzzed it and that was right on it. He does it on the other side and the current went right down my knee and back up. That showed that if it’s doing it there and it’s not doing it on the other side then there is something trapped in here. So I’ve had to bash my head, which I had to have an MRI on and I can still feel it, to fix my leg.”
After being staged for the last six years on the course bearing his name at Fairmont St Andrews, the 54-hole tournament is breaking new ground on the East Lothian coast. “If it was going to change from the Fairmont, then this is a great venue,” admitted Torrance, the winner at Dalmahoy in 2006. “Also, the haggis pies in the halfway house are probably the best food I’ve ever eaten,” he added with a smile.
For Englishman Paul Broadhurst, this week’s event is the long-awaited opportunity he’s been waiting for to get his teeth into an over-50s debut. “The last three or four years I have been wishing my life away,” admitted the former Ryder Cup player. “I must be just about the only person who has wanted to be 50 ever since I was 46 or 47. People might not understand that, but it’s a great opportunity to play again and is something I’m really looking forward to.” The Midlands man, who shot the first 63 in Open Championship history at St Andrews in 1990, may have won six times on the European Tour but he’s still hungry for more success. “I’ve got four kids to feed so that’s a big incentive to do well out here,” he added. “The bank balance has taken a battering the last three or four years. It would be great to hit the ground running but I’ve just got to try to be patient. I’m not stupid. There’s some very good players out here.”
They include Australian Peter Fowler, who is lying third behind Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer on this season’s European Senior Tour money-list, and Englishman Mark Davis, the defending champion. Torrance is joined by six compatriots – Gordon Brand Jnr, Ross Drummond, Bill Longmuir, Stephen McAllister, Brian Marchbank and Andrew Oldcorn.