Europe's Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, one day short of his 48th birthday, outscored the main contenders for a place in his European team in the Scottish PGA Championship yesterday. Torrance carded a four-under-par 68, to lie just two shots off the lead at Gleneagles in a first round delayed by three-and-a-half hours due to fog on the Centenary Course.
Jonathan Lomas held the early lead on six under, helped considerably by an albatross on the 12th, with Justin Rose, Warren Bennett and Scot Stephen Gallacher a shot behind.
Torrance recovered from dropping shots at his first two holes with an eagle and four birdies, but Andrew Coltart went in the opposite direction after a brilliant start. The Scot, 13th in the points standings and playing in the group in front of Torrance, rolled in a 40-foot putt for birdie on the par-three 10th – his opening hole – and after four more was five-under-par after 11 holes.
But Coltart, one of Mark James' wild cards at Brookline two years ago, then stumbled to two double bogeys in the space of four holes and eventually had to settle for a one-under 71.
His playing partner, Andrew Oldcorn, 14th in the standings, did go one better with a 70 but admitted he was exhausted after playing 13 of the last 14 tournaments before this week, as he chased the points necessary to qualify automatically for the Belfry next month.
"I did not play very well but I'm absolutely on my knees I'm so tired," the Volvo PGA champion said. "It's not jet lag from the USPGA, just pure fatigue. I'm exhausted."
Bennett is back in 21st in the standings but has not given up all hope of forcing his way into the Ryder Cup reckoning over the next two weeks. "If there is a mathematical chance I'm going to give it a shot because I want to play in the Ryder Cup," he said.