Gallacher to rely on Torrance

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The Independent Online


Bernard Gallacher, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, yesterday gave the most unequivocal support to Sam Torrance , not only as a player par excellence, but one who would lead the challenge in Rochester, New York, in September.

Torrance, once again, ensured his place in the 12-man team by winning the Murphy's Irish Open on Sunday. He regarded it as the best win of his career and it pushed him to fourth place in the Ryder Cup list with pounds 361,470.

Torrance's Ryder Cup record is nothing to write home, nor abroad, about but Gallacher spoke only of the positive. "Sam is going through a very good period in his life," Gallacher said. "He will be one of my leading players and I expect him to get maximum points. He is a perfect captain's player. He hasn't done himself justice in the Ryder Cup but he is a good guy to have in the dressing-room."

Torrance made his first Ryder Cup courtesy of the Irish Open in 1981, and made his mark at The Belfry in 1985 when he beat Andy North and sank the winning putt on the 18th. That was with a conventional putter and Torrance, who has never been regarded as being particularly effective on the greens but highly professional in getting there, has won a lot more money since switching to the long version.

Nevertheless, his Ryder Cup record is played 23 matches, won four, halved six and lost 13. Perhaps it was a combination of the heat, the location (Scotland's Caledonian Club in London) and the fact that Gallacher had possibly let Torrance down in the Sunningdale Foursomes a few months ago, that led the captain to sing his praises.

But Gallacher went even further. He predicted that a European would win the Open Championship at St Andrews next week and that that European could well be Torrance. "He's got the game and the swing," Gallacher said.

Gallacher, appointed captain in succession to Tony Jacklin following the tie at The Belfry in 1989, said he would take the term on for two of the biennial matches. Europe lost at Kiawah Island in 1991 and again at The Belfry two years ago.

Seve Ballesteros who, if fit, will play in Rochester, suggested that Torrance should be the captain. "I advised him not to stand," Gallacher said. "I told him he would be in the next Ryder Cup and that if he accepted the captaincy it would signal the end of his playing career."

Although he has said this before, Gallacher will relinquish the captaincy after September and an obvious front runner for the leadership at Valderrama in Spain in 1997 is Ballesteros. The Spaniard, and his compatriot Jose- Maria Olazabal, are both currently more accustomed to a walking stick than a driver. Could they go round the Ryder Cup course in a buggy? "I could ask," Gallacher said, "but the Americans would say no."