Senior stars light up the links with loud trousers right up Barry Lane’s street

BARRY Lane, the defending SSE Scottish Senior Open champion, hopes to “trouser” a record third consecutive title at the Fairmont, St Andrews.

But the 52-year-old from Hayes in Middlesex faces stiff competition in a fashion sense as well as a sporting context after several of his rivals poked fun at his choice of dress yesterday 
by turning up in a selection of tartan trews.

The Englishman famously wore a pair on the final day 12 months when he shot 66 to win by two and has vowed to dress accordingly this week in an attempt to achieve a career first.

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However, Sam Torrance and his fellow Scots were unable to resist the opportunity to copy Lane’s rig-out, and, fortunately, the fashion police were not on hand to apprehend the perpetrators of the pre-tournament stunt.

Lane revealed: “I had the trousers for a long time after having them specially made up, but, being English, I did not want to risk causing offence by wearing them for the first time in Scotland. But when I asked around if it was OK to do so, I was told to feel free, and when I shot 66 in the final round last year, I decided to keep on wearing them.”

Lane’s preparations were interrupted yesterday when his clubs were lost in transit between Heathrow and Edinburgh, forcing him to abandon plans to play an early morning practice round. But the former Ryder Cup player managed to remain surprisingly upbeat in the circumstances after pointing to his close affinity with the home of golf.

“I love playing in Scotland, particularly links golf,” he said. “It’s the way the game should be played, and as well as winning twice here, I won the Scottish Open at Gleneagles in 1988. I also played well in the Dunhill a few years back and finished fourth, so Scotland suits me.

“It helps your mindset if you like the course and its surroundings. It is much better coming to a place where you feel comfortable and where there is a good atmosphere and the course looks to be in pretty good condition. I would be very pleased if I could do the hat-trick at the home of golf. I have never managed that in my career. In fact, last year was the first time I had successfully defended a tournament.”

Somewhat ironically, Torrance – the last home winner of the £250,000 event – has not enjoyed similar success at the course he designed and the 58-year-old former Ryder Cup-winning captain does not give much for his chances.

Torrance expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of his game and voiced the opinion that he has not performed well enough recently to be a realistic contender. He does, however, expect Paul Lawrie to secure his Ryder Cup spot in the final ranking event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles next week, 13 years after he made his debut at Brookline.

Lawrie is currently fourth on the European Ryder Cup points list, with the top five automatically qualifying to face the United States at Medinah next month.

But Lawrie could still be caught by Italian Francesco Molinari and Swede Peter Hanson if he misses the cut and they go on to finish in the top ten, but Torrance insists that the 43-year-old Aberdonian will not fold under pressure.

“Paul is as cool as a cucumber, so I don’t think he will miss the cut,” Torrance opined. “He is a very competent golfer and the way he is playing he is going to be a good addition to the team, a real asset.

“As well as being incredibly cool, Paul has a great golf swing and he seems to be swinging it better than he has ever done, to my mind. He has great rhythm and a fantastic short game.

“It does not surprise me that he is playing so well again at his age. I won five times when I was 43 and had my best year ever. It must have something in the Scottish water, or maybe it is experience and maturity; a bit like good red wine and whisky!

“I certainly wasn’t thinking of final chances or adopting the attitude that I had nothing to lose. I just went out there and did it and it all came together.”