Golf: Torrance takes the initiative

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SAM TORRANCE produced one of the best rounds of golf in Europe this season to set up the chance of his fourth victory in 12 weeks yesterday. The 39-year-old Scot hit nine birdies in his third- round score of 63 in the Jersey European Airways Open at La Moye.

Having started the day five behind Mark James, Torrance raced into the lead with a 15-under-par total of 201. 'I'm playing as well as at any time in my career,' he said.

Torrance's playing partner, Mark Roe, added: 'He was magnificent. That 63 could have been a 60.'

The Scot's best spell came on the front nine, which he reduced to 30 strokes with six birdies. When he picked up further strokes on the 11th, 13th and 15th, where he pitched to four feet, he needed only one more birdie to equal the course record of 62. But he three-putted the long 16th for a par five and then missed from five feet on the last after his approach had struck the flagstick.

Only six rounds of 63 have been achieved in Europe this season - and Torrance has two of them. 'I'm confident, but I've not mastered this game,' he said. 'Golf is never easy - when you think that, it will jump up and bite your head off.'

Torrance, whose third win of the year came in Germany last weekend, needs to finish first or second today to move into the top 50 of the world rankings and so avoid qualifying for next month's Open. 'You can't tell me I'm not already one of the top 50,' he said. 'It's so stupid how the ranking system works.' Europe's leading money-winner this season with pounds 217,000, and the winner of the Scottish professional title, he takes a two-stroke lead into the final 18 holes.