Torrance angered by Wentworth snub

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To capitalise on Europe's famous victory in the Ryder Cup, you would have thought that the organisers would invite as many of the Oak Hill heroes as possible to the World Match Play Championship. However, the International Management Group moves in mysterious ways.

The invitations to the autumn classic at Wentworth in two weeks' time have been sent out by IMG but Sam Torrance, for one, has not received an invite. "I'm flabbergasted," Torrance said. "It's typical of IMG."

The Scotsman contributed three points to Europe's victory over the United States in Rochester last weekend, including a vital singles win over Loren Roberts. In head-to-head competition, the World Match Play may offer more money (a purse of pounds 650,000 with pounds 170,000 to the winner) but nothing compares with the gut-wrenching drama of playing for your team in a brilliantly conceived format.

Torrance's credentials for inclusion in the World Match Play were impeccable even before his performances in the Ryder Cup. He leads the Volvo Order of Merit with nearly pounds 620,000, pounds 20,000 ahead of Colin Montgomerie, with Costantino Rocca and Bernhard Langer a distant third and fourth.

Torrance is having the year of his life with three victories - the Italian Open, the Murphy's Irish Open and the British Masters - but perhaps the most pertinent thing about his portfolio is that he is an ex-IMG client. Torrance split from Mark McCormack's organisation five years ago. Montgomerie, an IMG client, will be at Wentworth on the grounds that he won the Order of Merit last year.

The World Match Play is officially described as a European Tour "approved special event". The Tour, which is based at Wentworth, is unlikely to approve of a competition that has no place for a player who leads its Order of Merit. Yesterday Tour officials were having talks with IMG. Twelve months ago Seve Ballesteros was excluded but there was such a furore he eventually got a place in the 12-man field.

The same thing could happen to Torrance this time. Ballesteros, who has received an invitation, may not play although a spokesman for IMG said: "We have no information on that. In any case the field has not yet been completed."

Today Torrance and nine other members of the Ryder Cup team play in the Smurfit European Open at the Kildare Country Club in Straffan. The two absentees are Ballesteros and Nick Faldo. It is not quite business as usual. For one thing, the K Club, as it is called, boasts an outlandish course designed by Arnold Palmer.

The River Liffey meanders through the estate and when the course opened four years ago it was plagued by drainage problems. Arnie's Army had to get the green wellingtons out but the owners, the Jefferson Smurfit Group, are finally satisfied that the K Club is ready to stage an international championship.

The timing is fortuitous for the European Open has had a rough ride in recent years. It used to alternate between Walton Heath and Sunningdale and when it was played at East Sussex National last year it did not have a sponsor. This tournament now has support from the Irish Tourist Board as well as Smurfit.

Bernard Gallacher, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, lost a play-off in the first European Open in 1978 to Bobby Wadkins, the younger brother of the US Ryder Cup captain, Lanny. This week Tom Lehman, one of America's vanquished from Rochester, renews acquaintance with Torrance and company. When Concorde and the European team arrived in Dublin on Monday a crowd of around 6,000 descended on the airport. There are still huge hangovers being nursed here.

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