Golf: Torrance is troubled by flower-pot power: Ryder veteran runs into obstacle while Walker amateurs agree to a quick change

SAM TORRANCE'S Ryder Cup place has been put in doubt by a collision with a large stone plant pot. Torrance, whose three victories this season made him a near certainty to play in the Ryder Cup for a seventh successive time, was involved in a bizarre accident in his hotel room at The Belfry.

Torrance, who will be 40 next Tuesday, is prone to walk in his sleep, a condition he thinks he may have inherited from his mother. After retiring to bed on Tuesday night he woke in agony to find the plant pot in pieces on the floor of his room. 'Apparently I just walked straight into it,' Torrance said, 'and when I awoke my chest was hurting.' Yesterday morning he consulted a specialist at a hospital who initially thought the Scotsman had fractured his sternum. An X- ray, however, revealed heavy bruising.

Torrance withdrew from the pro- am at the Murphy's English Open and will not decide until today whether to compete in the pounds 600,000 championship.

Torrance, who is sixth in the Ryder Cup table, is due to tee off in the first round today with Tony Johnstone and Ian Woosnam. Woosnam is 10th in the Ryder Cup table and the top nine automatically qualify, Bernard Gallacher, the captain, choosing the remaining three. This is the penultimate event that counts towards Cup selection.

At the English Open last year the sponsors did not pay appearance money and not one of the big six turned up. The sponsors have spent money to ensure the presence here of Woosnam and Sandy Lyle.

After saying that Gallacher should not be forced to pick players who realistically should make the top nine, Woosnam said: 'To tell you the truth I'm pretty sick of the Ryder Cup.' He is entered for the German Open but may not play. 'I'm getting a bit tired,' Woosnam said. 'I've been putting really badly and there's nothing I can do about it.'

Sandy Lyle, who is 23rd in the standings, has been suffering on the greens but says he is keen to play at The Belfry. 'If I was Gallacher I'd pick me,' Lyle said. 'It's hard to have five or six new players in the team.' Lyle is of the view that money won on the US Tour by Europeans should count towards selection. 'It would take a bit of pressure off the leading players and has got to be looked at.'

Lyle is in the position he is in because he has played in only eight events on the European Tour out of 28 and has missed the cut in four of them. Woosnam has played in only 10. Since November, when he won the Volvo Masters, Lyle has dropped 21 places in the Cup table. Jose-Maria Olazabal, who is not playing here, is lying ninth and runs the risk of being overtaken. 'Olly hasn't got a safe shot at the moment,' Lyle, who played with the Spaniard at the US PGA last week, said. 'I tried to help him out.

Seve's going through a similar crisis. He's the only man I know who can put a pretty swing on it and the ball goes sideways. In a fourball Seve and Olly might drag the Americans down to their level.' When Lyle begins to dispense advice we know Europe's in trouble.

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