Italian job offers Torrance a boost

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Sam Torrance, seven times a Ryder Cup player and hoping to make it eight in September, will be striving to improve his position in the Cup points table at the Italian Open in Milan this week.

Only three players in the top 15 of the current Ryder Cup points table -Torrance, the Italian Costantino Rocca and Mark James - are competing in Milan this week.

So Torrance, who missed the fourball event in Paris last week, knows that victory here with a first prize of £61,642 would take him up into fourth spot and considerably nearer a coveted place against the Americans in Rochester in four months' time.

But Torrance said: "I'm not setting myself a particular points target for the Ryder Cup. The big tournaments, with the biggest prize-money, are all coming up and I intend to play in most of them.

"My back problem has gone and I'm fit and well and could do with a good finish here this week.

"At the moment I'm just hanging on by my fingertips to 10th place in the Cup table and my only aim is to try and stay in that position or better it."

Yesterday the weather was dry and sunny and Torrance said he hoped it stayed the same for the next four days.

"I've played in gale force winds in Portugal and Barcelona and in torrential rain in Cannes during the past month," he said, "so it would be nice to play in good conditions for a change."

Asked by Italian journalists who would win this week, the 41-year-old Scot replied that Costantino Rocca would. "That went down well with all the local press. I'm not daft you know," Torrance said.

Rocca, sixth in the Cup points table and desperately anxious to make the team again "to prove myself", and James, 14th in the table and winner of the Moroccan Open last month, are Torrance's main rivals.

But Ronan Rafferty, Paul Broadhurst, Joakim Haeggman, Peter Baker, Andrew Coltart, Robert Karlsson, Greg Turner and Adam Hunter will all be hoping to be in the frame come Sunday evening.