Tearful Torrance moves to top of the table

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Having enjoyed an Indian summer, Sam Torrance looks set for a golden autumn. The 42-year-old Scotsman goes into his eighth Ryder Cup match this week as the new leader of Europe's Order of Merit after winning the British Masters yesterday. In between tears, the Alex Higgins of golf managed to roll a fag and down a pint.

Torrance is unquestionably playing the canniest golf of his career and there is no hint of the fallibility that previously marred his Ryder Cup record. In his last 11 tournaments he has hardly been out of the frame and his prize here of pounds 108,330 pushed his total to nearly pounds 620,000. It also enabled him to overtake Colin Montgomerie at the top of the Merit table.

Torrance, who had already won the Italian and Irish Opens, could not stop himself from crying. It is one of his watermarks and if Europe should happen to win the Ryder Cup he will probably need counselling. "You would think after 24 years I would learn to control myself but I can't," Torrance said. "I haven't been this happy since my kids were born."

Montgomerie, after a promising front nine during which he closed the gap on Torrance to two strokes, gave a performance out of character. He went to the turn in 32 with four birdies and, as torrential rain began to fall, came home in 40 with five bogeys. Big Monty's current mood is such that he goes to New York on Concorde today with teddy precariously poised in the pram.

Montgomerie finished joint seventh, seven strokes adrift of Torrance whose 69 gave him an aggregate of 270, 18 under par, one in front of Michael Campbell and three in front of Miguel Angel Jimenez. Torrance, who began the day two strokes in front of Campbell, was one behind after the 13th. When the New Zealander missed from five feet for par at the 16th they were all square and Torrance drew a sigh of relief from the sponsors, Sky Television, with a birdie at the last.

Sky were banking on an early finish to accommodate Nottingham Forest v Everton and a play-off was on the cards until Campbell drove into water at the 18th. Even so he recovered sufficiently well to hit the green in three, thereby denying Torrance the luxury of laying up in front of the lake at the par-five hole. "I hit a three-wood out of my boots," Torrance said. Safely on in two, he got down in two putts for a four to Campbell's five.

Domingo Hospital, of Spain, who would have finished joint seventh, lost pounds 15,000 after being disqualified for signing his card with a four instead of a five at the 16th.

Torrance - this was the 24th victory of his career, he moves up to 17th in the world rankings and qualifies for the Johnnie Walker World Championship in December - responded afterwards to criticism of Bernard Gallacher, the Ryder Cup captain, by Tony Jacklin, the former captain. "Bernard is the best captain I've ever played under," Torrance said.

Jacklin, who led Europe to victory in 1985, when Torrance holed the winning putt, and 1987, stepped down after the tied match of 1989. Gallacher, the captain in the last two matches which were both narrowly lost, had no plans to continue but was persuaded to do so by the players. Before Gallacher changed his mind, Jacklin offered to make a comeback. "I thought I could have helped because the last time they were a bit like a ship without a rudder," Jacklin said in a newspaper article.

"Maybe Bernard was listening to too many of the players. He's been quoted as saying he's not a Tony Jacklin and would rather do it through the committee. In my opinion the committee doesn't know a bloody thing. Bernard doesn't want the responsibility but the captain has to have a firm hand . . . opinions are like bums - we've all got one."

Jacklin described Europe's reduction of wild cards to two as "absolutely ridiculous" and said: "A major faux pas has already been made. This team is not as good as it should be." Jacklin, who will be at home in Florida next week and not at the match in Rochester, New York, added that he would be "pulling like hell" for Europe. Mark James, the chairman of Europe's tournament committee, said: "It's pathetic really. If he was pulling for Europe he wouldn't come out with this rubbish. He's had his day."

BRITISH MASTERS (Collingtree Park Northampton) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 270 S Torrance 67 66 68 69. 271 M Campbell (NZ) 70 67 66 68. 273 M A Jimenez (Sp) 73 65 68 67. 274 V Fernandez (Arg) 70 68 67 69. 276 I Pyman 69 67 71 69; A Oldcorn 67 70 68 71. 277 S Ames (Trin) 68 67 71 71; C Montgomerie 69 69 67 72; P Hedblom (Swe) 70 69 66 72; P Baker 70 69 67 71. 278 P Linhart (Sp) 69 69 74 66; J Coceres (Arg) 70 69 72 67; G Turner (NZ) 69 71 69 69; S Luna (Sp) 67 67 75 69; D Smyth 68 67 72 71; M James 67 67 72 72; P Mitchell 68 69 67 74. 279 M A Martin (Sp) 67 74 71 67; R Chapman 68 72 70 69; D Clarke 73 62 74 70; J Rivero (Sp) 70 67 71 71. 280 P Moloney (Aus) 71 69 72 68; R Goosen (SA) 70 69 73 68; S Struver (Ger)72 71 69 68; J Lomas 68 67 75 70; S Richardson 69 71 67 73. Disqualified: D Hospital (Sp).