Torrance has belated invitation to Wentworth

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The Independent Online
For the second year running, the International Management Group has been forced to listen to reason over its composition of the field for the Toyota World Match Play Championship. Sam Torrance, playing the best golf of his life at the age of 42, has received a belated invitation to the autumn classic at Wentworth next week.

Despite the fact that he was leading Europe's Order of Merit, Torrance had not heard from IMG. Ken Schofield, executive director of the European Tour, had a word with IMG on Torrance's behalf over the weekend. That, and the withdrawal of Seve Ballesteros, enabled the company to invite Sam to the ball.

Twelve months ago, when Ballesteros was in prime form, IMG - Mark McCormack conceived the tournament - omitted the Spaniard. They took a lot of flak, but were able to perform an about-turn when Greg Norman withdrew. As it is their own event, IMG tends to fill the 12-man field with its own clients. If they were reluctant to recognise the argument for Torrance, it probably has something to do with the fact that he is a former client. He left IMG five years ago, and in the company's eyes, if there is one thing worse than a non-IMG man, it is an ex-IMG man.

Anyway, Ballesteros has taken five months off, and Torrance's presence at Wentworth will make him at least pounds 30,000 better off. That is what the four first-round losers will take home. The winner receives pounds 170,000. Two IMG clients who will be missing for the first time since 1986 are Nick Faldo (IMG say he is unavailable) and Ian Woosnam, who has not won a tournament this year.

Ideally, the field would include the season's four Major winners. It has two of them, Ben Crenshaw, who won the Masters at Augusta, and Steve Elkington, who won the US PGA Championship in Los Angeles, defeating Colin Montgomerie in a play-off.

On Sunday evening, Big Monty, by virtue of finishing joint third in the European Open in County Kildare, overtook Torrance at the top of the Order of Merit by pounds 980. Montgomerie has pounds 626,651.40, Torrance pounds 625,671.28, and they could renew their rivalry at Wentworth, although the World Match Play does not count towards the money list. Last year, the title went to Ernie Els, who beat Montgomerie in the final.

John Daly, the Open champion, and Corey Pavin, the US Open champion, have not been given releases from the US Tour to play at Wentworth. Montgomerie and Torrance are the only two Britons in the field, but there are two other members of the victorious Ryder Cup team, Bernhard Langer and Costantino Rocca. Langer moved up to third in the Order of Merit with his triumph in the European Open, and this week he hosts the German Masters in Berlin.

TOYOTA WORLD MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP (Wentworth, 12-15 October): E Els (SA), B Crenshaw (US), D Duval (US), S Elkington (Aus), L Janzen (US), B Langer (Ger), C Montgomerie (Sco), N Price (Zim), C Rocca (It), V Singh (Fiji), K Tomori (Japan), S Torrance (Sco).

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