Torrance, battling against muscle trouble just below his shoulders, had a disappointing three-over-par 74 after deciding to play only an hour before the start. Gilford, who had to withdraw from Open qualifying last week because he also had a back problem, is fully fit again and proved it with a six-under-par 65, just one shot behind the surprise leader, Robert Coles of Essex.
Torrance, 13th in the Ryder Cup table and desperately keen to make a ninth Ryder Cup appearance, will need an outstanding round today even to make the half-way cut.
More than half the field shot par or better on a course which is short by European standards, and the greens were holding after persistent light rain for much of the day.
Gilford, 19th in the Cup table, had four birdies in his outward 32 and three more coming home with only one bogey, at the 16th, and joined Roger Chapman, who had seven birdies and an eagle plus three bogeys in his 65, in second place. But Coles had the most consistent round with nine birdies and only two bogeys. His 64 was a career-best score.
The Italian Costantino Rocca and Mark James, who, like Torrance and Gilford, were members of the winning Ryder Cup team at Oak Hill, both had good starts. Rocca shot 68 and James 69.Reuse content