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Ryder Cup: Torrance, Smyth Named as Vice-Captains

AFTER biting his lip for more than a year, Sam Torrance was 
finally able to share his secret yesterday as another chapter was added to an illustrious Ryder Cup career.

“It’s like getting an honour from The Queen – I’d known for bloody months but couldn’t tell anyone,” said the 60-year-old after being named along with Irishman Des Smyth as one of Paul McGinley’s vice-captains for September’s match at Gleneagles. His wife, Suzanne, knew but was sworn to secrecy in the Sunningdale stockbroker belt. So, too, were his parents, Bob and June, back in Largs. “Four bookies that would take my bet also knew,” he joked.

Others had to be kept in the dark. “I couldn’t tell my best friend Queeny (former European Tour player Michael King) as you might as well have put it in the newspapers if he’d known,” he revealed. “It’s been a bloody nightmare!”

Following yesterday’s ann-ouncement in the Irish Government Buildings in the heart of Dublin, it has turned into a dream scenario for Torrance.

The man who played in eight Ryder Cups, providing one of the event’s most iconic moments with his arms raised in celebration on the 18th green at The Belfry in 1985, then captained a winning European team at the same venue in 2002, is rolling up his sleeves again in preparation to fight the US.

“This is a different one for me as I’ve been brought in for a reason – my knowledge,” he said. “There’s nothing like being told you are the Ryder Cup captain – it was the highlight of my career by a billion miles – but this is a great honour for me, too.”

It was in the offing from the moment McGinley appointed Torrance as one of the captains for the Seve Trophy in Paris last October, though, even before that, you didn’t have to be a genius to work it out.

The pair are close friends, play regular “money matches” at Sunningdale and have the greatest respect for each other. Even before his appointment in Abu Dhabi last January, the event’s first Irish captain had eulogised about Torrance’s leadership skills in 2002, revealing how the Scot had helped him feel at ease for a match that saw McGinley hole the winning putt – in particular, by making a special journey up to the Midlands in the build-up to the event and over a bottle or two of champagne in the back of a chauffeur-driven car on the journey back home, listening to Torrance tell his Ryder Cup tales.

“Paul says I drank all the champagne on that journey – but he’s a lying git,” said Torrance in jest. “Seriously, though, there was nothing premeditated about that at all. It was just a case of me going up there with a couple of players and having a laugh with them. I did explain a lot of things to Paul on the way back and he obviously soaked that up, which was great.”

McGinley, making the first of his three playing appearances in the event before serving as an assistant to both Colin Montgomerie in 2010 and Jose Maria Olazabal two years later, duly delivered for Torrance, who now wants to repay the favour. “If I can do a tenth for Paul’s team what he did for my team, we’ll both be very happy men,” he admitted.

Torrance said he expects to be an “errand boy” in Perthshire. He knows, however, that he’ll have a bigger role than that in the European team. “I’ll try and inspire them,” he said. “There’s no question that playing in a Ryder Cup was the most nervous thing in my career. If you’ve come off the last green having three-putted as an individual, even to lose a tournament, you get it over it pretty quickly.

“But, in a Ryder Cup, when you’ve got to walk into a team room where the others have been heroes that day but you’ve lost is a terrible feeling – and they know you’ve lost as soon as you walk in there.”

McGinley had originally intended hanging off until the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event, in May before officially unveiling both Torrance and Smyth, the man who mentored him in the early part of his career.

The reason he brought that forward, though, was more down to him also appointing Smyth as assistant captain to Miguel Angel Jimenez for the new EurAsia Cup in Malaysia later this month than responding to opposite number Tom Watson opting for experience in the shape of Raymond Floyd and Andy North as his assistants.

“Absolutely not,” replied Torrance to the latter. “Once Paul made me a Seve Trophy captain, I thought it was brilliant and now it’s the same with Des for the EurAsia Cup. It gives us experience of seeing the players again and getting involved.

“Paul has a gameplan. I have looked at the Ryder Cup and asked ‘Is there anything that he can’t handle’ and there is nothing about the Ryder Cup that 
he won’t do 100 per cent well. He is meticulous, he thinks about everything, he gets the right people in, he takes his time about things. He’ll be fantastic.”

There were a couple of instances yesterday when Torrance showed the wit that McGinley will be looking for in that home team room in September. First, he jokingly pulled up this correspondent for wrongly suggesting he was 61 in a live TV broadcast. “Who is 61, by the way? You?” he jokingly replied, revealing afterwards that he’d have made his point in more colourful fashion if it hadn’t been in such a public setting.

Then, as all three protagonists took part in a series of interviews in a nearby hotel, he walked past McGinley to hear the Irishman singing his praises and declared, with that cheeky smile on his face: “Bollocks!”


Sergio Garcia ‘Disgusted’ Over Cheating Claims

If Sergio Garcia was hoping to stay out of the spotlight a bit more in 2014 than he managed last year, he has failed miserably so far.Sergio Garcia Sergio Garcia ‘Disgusted’ Over Cheating Claims

But, after only having himself to blame on day one in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship by branding the rough “dangerous”, it wasn’t down to him that it happened again yesterday.

Overnight, footage had been posted on a website that showed the Spaniard tapping down something on the line of his putt on the 18th green, which would have been in breach of the rules if it was a spike mark.

However, the world No 10 and John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee, went out to the exact spot yesterday morning and Paramor was satisfied with Garcia’s explanation that he had tapped down a repaired pitch mark.

On the back of the Simon Dyson incident in October that led to the Englishman being hit with a two-month suspended ban, Garcia was livid nonetheless that he was the subject of a “cheating” claim.

“It’s the most disgusting thing that can happen to someone, especially someone like me that has never, ever cheated,” he said after scraping into the final two rounds following a spirited 68.

“To be related to that word, when people have no proof, hurts. I’ve never cheated in my whole life. And I’ve imposed plenty of penalty strokes on myself when nobody saw it and I did.”

Asked if it was wrong for players to be accused through such a process, he added: “No, I think the people who say that without any proof are wrong.

“If you can really tell, you can really see that it’s wrong, that someone has cheated, it’s fine.

“But, if you have no proof at all and you’re just guessing what happened, that’s wrong.”

Royal Burgess To Host Prestigious EuroPro Tour

EDINBURGH is set to stage its biggest golf tournament for some time after Royal Burgess was included on the PGA EuroPro Tour fixture list this year.

The third-tier circuit, where the likes of major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel cut their competitive teeth in the paid ranks, is heading to the Edinburgh course in July.

One of four Scottish events on the 2014 schedule, it will mark a welcome return of Tour action to the oldest golfing society in the world. Royal Burgess was once a regular host to such events, having staged tournaments such as the Swallow/Penfold, Pringle, Martini and the Scottish Professional Championship.

An event on the European Tour, the 1956 Swallow-Penfold was won there by Eric Lester while the current course record of 63 was established by Paul Leonard in the Martini Tournament in 1973. More than 40 years on, Leonard’s effort is still listed among the European Tour’s top scoring statistics, his round having contained three eagles and five birdies.

The 54-hole event from July 16-18 – the same week as The Open at Hoylake on Merseyside – is one of 15 on the 2014 PGA EuroPro Tour schedule.

It will feature a mix of new recruits to the professional ranks and seasoned performers either still trying to climb the ladder or bidding to reignite careers.

Ironically, Duddingston-based John Gallagher, a regular on the PGA EuroPro Tour since leaving the amateur ranks, will be focusing on the Alps Tour instead this year. But the likes of Archerfield’s Elliot Saltman, his younger brother Zack and Craigielaw’s Shaun McAllister are all likely to get at least one event this season where they’ll be able to sleep in their own bed.

In addition to South African duo Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, Englishman Ross Fisher and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts both used the circuit as Ryder Cup stepping stones. Others to graduate to the European 
Tour after playing on the PGA EuroPro Tour include Scottish stars Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson. Their compatriot, Paul Lawrie (pictured), welcomed the news that Royal Burgess, Montrose Links, The Carrick on Loch Lomond and Mar Hall are all staging events on the 2014 schedule. “Fantastic news,” wrote the former Open champion on Twitter.


553389632 Royal Burgess To Host Prestigious EuroPro Tour


WHILE confident that Gleneagles will remain on the schedule after it hosts next year’s Ryder Cup, European Tour, chief executive George O’Grady reckons it will require some “thinking out of the box” for any future tournaments at the Perthshire venue.

Due to the logistics of staging Europe’s clash against the Americans in September, the Johnnie Walker Championship, held on the PGA Centenary Championship under various guises since 1999, was dropped from the 2014 calendar.

There is nothing to suggest Gleneagles won’t be welcoming the European Tour back the following year and many more thereafter, but it remains to be seen what the event will be, with O’Grady aware that the Ryder Cup is a hard act to follow.

“I think all of that is still under discussion,” he said in reply to being asked if the Johnnie Walker Championship, won this year in a play-off by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, was definitely returning in 2015.

“Gleneagles certainly want to remain as a venue on the European Tour. Gleneagles acknowledge that golf is good for Gleneagles. It’s a matter of getting the right event for Gleneagles and we continue to discuss it with [resort owners] Diageo.

“We’re looking at lots of different alternatives, either exactly what was there before or whether we can come up with a new way forward and what’s available. We haven’t crystalised it yet. At the moment, it’s just sitting around the table brainstorming.

“Personally, I’d like to think there will be something. Gleneagles is a great venue and I think the Ryder Cup will be a catalyst. But anything after the Ryder Cup is after the Lord Mayor’s Show slightly, so we have to think outside the box. Maybe they will consider waiting a year, if it was right for them. But, at the moment, it is a very positive, genial discussion, and we are just trying to find out what is right.”

In addition to the Ryder Cup, the European Tour caravan will roll into Royal Aberdeen for the first time next year when it stages the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. It is set to host a star-studded field, with defending champion Phil Mickelson likely to be joined by Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.

As with this year’s event at Castle Stuart, it will again be beamed into homes in America through a ten-year broadcasting deal with NBC and the Golf Channel, one that O’Grady is delighted with. “A lot of people don’t quite understand what a big deal this is,” he said. “We don’t even have two TV companies competing in Britain. We have Sky, which is a great commitment, and BBC do The Open, but that’s it.

“NBC specifically trail the Scottish Open in all their other coverage and Castle Stuart looked so scenically beautiful on TV cameras. And, of course, we struck it fractionally lucky with Phil Mickelson winning the tournament and winning it the way he did. First, we thought he had lost it then he won at the first extra hole [in a play-off against South African Branden Grace] with that great pitch.

“Henrik Stenson, of course, began his great run by finishing third there. For a regular European Tournament to be on network television on America, and get great viewing figures as well, has shown other sponsors what we can do. It would have been great even without Mickelson, but the way he won it was the icing on the cake.”

While Scotland staging such tournaments is often taken for granted, it is down to the drive of both First Minister Alex Salmond and Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management’s chief executive, that the Scottish Open’s future has been secured for the next four years.

Johann Rupert, the South African businessman, also deserves enormous credit for his role in the Dunhill Links Championship, which will be held at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns for the 14th year running the week after the Ryder Cup.

“The Scottish Open is immensely powerful for the European Tour,” admitted O’Grady. “I’ve praised the First Minister before for taking the leadership on this with Aberdeen Asset, a great Scottish company, which needs visibility in America for their business. As for the future of the Dunhill Links, I have agreed this with Johann Rupert. I’m not too certain what we have contracted, but his handshake is his bond and I think the last time I saw him at the Presidents Cup he is continuing, and I think quite a lengthy continuation.”

At the moment, the BMW PGA Championship, the Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth, is the only English stop on the 2014 schedule but talks are ongoing about the Volvo Match Play Championship finding a new home there, with The London Club believed to be in the frame. “We’ve done some work to try and bring it back to England and hopefully that will happen,” said O’Grady. [by Martin Dempster]

Over 850 Million Golf Balls Are Manufactured Every Year…

The First Golf Clubs and Golf Balls

Originally, golfers in the east of Scotland used what can only be described as primitive equipment to play the game of golf in a rather disorganized and casual manner. The first golf clubs and golf balls specifically made for golf were produced from local hardwoods like beech.

Golf dates back to 1354 and there is documented reference to a gentleman, John Daly, playing with a wooden golf ball in 1550.

Initially, all golf balls were smooth, however, golfers soon noticed that older golf balls that had succumbed to nicks, bumps and slices appeared to fly farther.

Now, golfers being golfers naturally gravitated towards anything that would give them an advantage on the golf course therefore old, “battered” golf balls became standard issue.

In the early 17th century a golf ball consisting of a hand sewn leather pouch stuffed with boiled feathers from chickens or geese and covered with a coat of paint was created and christened the "featherie".

“Gutty” Golf Balls

In 1848, another golf ball, the "Gutty", arrived on the scene to revolutionize the game of golf and spread it to the masses. “Gutty” golf balls were constructed from the rubber like sap from the Gutta tree, which is found in the tropics. The “rubber” was heated to create a smooth sphere (golf ball) and covered with three coats of paint. The ball was relatively cheap to produce and easily repaired by re-heating and then re-shaping.

Types of Golf Balls

Today, there are so many different types of golf balls on the market that golfers invariably face difficulty deciding on which ones to buy. Golf balls are split into two categories, recreational and advanced. It should be noted that the slightly cheaper recreational golf balls are aimed more towards everyday golfers, as they tend to lose them with a greater degree of regularity!!! (sound familiar?)

When you are buying golf balls the cost will obviously depend on the brand name and whether you are buying them for competition or practice (recreation) so it is wise to chose accordingly.

On a lighter note: – The secret of good golf is to hit your golf balls long, straight and not too often.