Sam Torrance set for Ryder Cup role

Sam Torrance, a winning Ryder Cup captain in 2002, could make a dramatic return to one of golf's biggest stages. Picture: Getty
Sam Torrance, a winning Ryder Cup captain in 2002, could make a dramatic return to one of golf's biggest stages. Picture: Getty
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PAUL McGinley, the European captain, has dropped a heavy hint that Sam Torrance could be set for a role on his backroom team for next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

It follows the soon-to-be 60-year-old Scot’s appointment by McGinley as one of the captains for the Seve Trophy, which has finally been confirmed in an early October slot at St-Nom-La Bretèche in Paris.

Torrance, a winning Ryder Cup captain at The Belfry in 2002, will lead a Great Britain & Ireland side against a Continental Europe team being skippered by Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal.

It’s a fascinating head-to-head and points to both men being strong contenders to assist McGinley when Europe defend the trophy they won in spectacular style as Olazabal’s side pulled off the “Miracle at Medinah” last year.

Past Ryder Cup captains, including Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie, have used the Seve Trophy to shape their backroom teams and McGinley 
clearly looks to have identified Torrance as a possible vice-captain in Perthshire.

It was there, during last year’s Johnnie Walker Championship, that the Irishman singled out Torrance as the single biggest influence on his Ryder Cup career after giving him the confidence to be Europe’s match-winning hero at The Belfry.

That was Torrance’s last involvement in the match against the Americans but he could now be set to make a dramatic return to one of sport’s biggest stages along with Tom Watson after his appointment as US captain.

“It’s a great honour,” admitted Torrance, who is preparing for the SSE Scottish Seniors Open, starting tomorrow at Fairmont St Andrews. It’s been 11 years since I took charge of the Ryder Cup team and so you can imagine I’m really looking forward to this – it’s tremendous.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on what has been going on, and so it will be a real privilege to be involved at the helm once again.

“It will also be special to go up against Ollie as I’ve known him all my golfing life. But I also know it will be a tough challenge as we all saw the help he got from Seve at Medinah!

“Seriously though, it’s wonderful to be part of Seve’s heritage and legacy through an event I know he was a huge fan of.”

The Scot, who played in three winning Ryder Cup teams – 1985, 1987 and 1995 – will be aiming to make it a hat-trick of GB&I victories at St Nom la Breteche after McGinley himself led them to a 15½-12½ triumph there two years ago. “There is a wealth of talent out there so I’m really looking forward to working with some of the British and Irish boys we currently have on Tour,” added Torrance, who holds the record for the most European Tour appearances in history with 706.

“We’ve won six on the trot, so you know I will be going all out to try and make that seven.”

McGinley, who will have an overseeing role during the week in Paris, confessed: “I am delighted to name José María and Sam as captains. They are two men I have the utmost respect for and who I’ve benefitted from over the years. I know they will do a fine job.

“I have shared many special moments with both of them,
but, obviously, having Sam as captain for my Ryder Cup debut in 2002 was particularly memorable, as was being one of José María’s vice-captains for that extraordinary week at Medinah last year.

“I have said many times that this is a tournament close to my heart, both as a player and as a captain, and I am delighted that all the parties involved have worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure this year’s event will go ahead.

“From a playing perspective in particular, it gives the players vital insight into the pressures associated with being part of a team and therefore having other guys depending on you.

“It is totally different to the normal pressures of week in-week out tournament golf and, as a result, the younger players especially benefit from having experienced captains to steer them through. Therefore, I can say for certain that the 20 guys who eventually make this year’s teams will learn a lot from José Maria and Sam, as I have done.”

Instigated by the late Seve Ballesteros as a team competition to be held in non-Ryder Cup years, the 3-6 October event is being supported by GOLF+, the dedicated golf channel of French broadcaster Canal Plus.

It will again feature ten-man teams comprising the leading five eligible players from the world rankings and leading five from the Race to Dubai on 23 September.

Five fourballs on each of the first two days will be followed by two sessions of five fourballs on the Saturday, then ten singles on the last day.