Golf: Torrance falters

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The Independent Online
SAM TORRANCE, the Graham Gooch of golf, is still using the long handle to good effect and is on course here to kick- start his Ryder Cup career. Not everyone, at such an early stage, wants to talk about the biennial showstopper between Europe and the United States, but Torrance is not among them. He has played - not all that successfully it has to be said - in the last seven Cup matches and is determined to make it eight.

The trouble with Torrance, who will be 42 when Europe meets America in Rochester, New York, next September, is that he is accident-prone. Last week he went on nocturnal walkabout and bruised his back when he crashed into a table. He was not sure whether he would play here but last night he was on cloud nine. No sooner had he arrived 5,000ft up the Alps than Torrance damaged his neck in the bathroom of his hotel. It did not prevent him from compiling rounds of 67, 65 and 69 to stand at 15 under par. He is three strokes behind Eduardo Romero, one behind Pierre Fulke and one in front of Barry Lane, the defending champion, Nick Faldo and Adam Hunter. Nor is Bernhard Langer out of it. Yesterday he went eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie over the last four holes to come in with a 64.

Yesterday Torrance had a topsy-turvy time of it and a 69 here is no better than moderate. He was playing in a group with Romero, who forged ahead with a 66, and Gordon Brand Jnr. Brand Jnr came in with a 71 and that, compared to his two previous rounds, was positively negative.

The weather has been so inclement that the second round could not be finished on Friday evening and was completed early yesterday. Had Jose Manuel Carriles, who stood at three under par with two to play, birdied both holes, the halfway cut would have been made at four under par for the championship. That would have meant that all those on three under, including Seve Ballesteros, would have headed home. Carriles missed the cut, finishing on par, but Ballesteros shot 68 and is at seven under.

That, however, was nothing compared to what happened to Joakim Haeggman at the second hole. The Swede hit his approach shot beyond the green and over the road. Thinking it was out of bounds, he dropped another ball under penalty and got a five. He shot three birdies in the next five holes to get to seven under par. Seventh heaven? Seventh hell more like - when he reached the turn he was informed that he was disqualified. He should have played his original ball at the second, taking a free drop off the road. Then he would probably have got a four. On the other hand he could have been run over by a Lamborghini, which are two a penny around here.

(Photograph omitted)