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Sam Torrance awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour

9.37am 25th May 2017 - People

Sam Torrance (Getty Images)

Sam Torrance has been recognised for his record-breaking European Tour career and Ryder Cup heroics by becoming the latest addition to the exclusive group of Honorary Life Members of the European Tour.

As the European Tour enters a new era at this week’s BMW PGA Championship, the first event of the new Rolex Series, Torrance’s significant contribution to all aspects of the Tour and Ryder Cup was recognised at Tuesday night’s Championship Reception when he was presented with the accolade by European Tour Chairman David Williams.

Torrance said: “It’s fantastic. It’s been my whole life. I should really be honouring the European Tour for giving me such an arena to play golf. What a life. It has been so rewarding – the people I’ve met, the places, I’ve been. What a journey. It’s very special to receive this honour. The European Tour has always made me feel very special though.

“The Ryder Cup captaincy was definitely the highlight of my career but I’ve many memories. I won the Australian PGA in 1980, which to this day is still my biggest win. I played with Seve the last two rounds. Seve finished second, Greg Norman finished third. I beat the pair of them and when I came off the last green, Seve said, “hey Sam, you’re very tough to beat”. For someone as legendary as that to say that to me, it gave me so much confidence. Up to that point I’d only won twice and hadn’t played in The Ryder Cup yet. I went on to win a few and play in a few Ryder Cups and a lot was down to that great man.”

David Williams said: “Sam has had the most extraordinary golf career and the most extraordinary life. In 29 years, the European Tour has only awarded the Honorary Life Membership to 52 players such is the prestige of it. It is truly a roll call of golfing honour and such a privilege to present this award to him.”

Having turned professional in 1970, Torrance made his official European Tour debut in the Tour’s first event two years later, the Spanish Open at Pals in Girona in April 1972. In total the 63 year old Scot went on to play 706 events which, to this day, remains a European Tour record. It total he won 21 times on Tour between 1976 and 1998.

Torrance carried that success into the European Senior Tour, winning the John Jacobs Trophy by topping the Order of Merit on three separate occasions – in 2005, 2006 and 2009 – and winning a total of 11 titles on the over 50s Tour.

But it is his Ryder Cup career for which he is most revered, playing in eight successive contests between 1981 and 1995 and being on the winning side on three occasions in addition to being part of the European Team that retained the trophy in 1989, following the 14-14 tie at The Belfry.

During that time, he memorably sank the winning putt at The Belfry in 1985 which sealed Europe’s first ever victory over the United States of America since players from the Continent had become part of the contest in 1979.

Torrance would return to the English venue in 2002 as Captain, the contest having been delayed for 12 months following the 9/11 atrocity in New York. The Scot’s man management and tactical nous was widely praised as he led Europe to a famous 15½ – 12½ triumph, coincidentally the largest winning margin for a European team since that historic victory at the same course in 1985.

Born in Largs, North Ayrshire, and now based in Sunningdale with his family – wife Suzanne, daughters Phoebe and Anouska and son Daniel – Torrance was awarded an MBE in 1996 for services to golf, and then an OBE in the 2003 New Years’ Honours list.

He has gone on to forge a hugely successful career off the fairways – as a broadcaster he applied his extensive knowledge and acerbic wit to the BBC’s coverage of golf for many years while latterly being part of the World Feed commentary team at European Tour Productions. He has also become a distinguished golf course designer, with the Torrance Course at St Andrews one of his most eminent creations.

Sam Torrance becomes the first Scot to receive Honorary Membership of the European Tour since Bernard Gallacher achieved the accolade in 2003, and the sixth in total since the award was established in 1978, joining Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie, John Panton and Gallacher.

Honorary Life Members of The European Tour

1978 John Jacobs OBE

1978 Bernard Hunt MBE

1978 Dai Rees CBE

1982 Peter Butler

1983 Seve Ballesteros

1983 Tony Jacklin CBE

1985 Sir Henry Cotton MBE

1985 Fred Daly MBE

1985 Max Faulkner OBE

1985 Bernhard Langer

1985 Sandy Lyle MBE

1987 Sir Nick Faldo MBE

1992 Ian Woosnam OBE

1994 José María Olazábal

1995 Bob Charles CBE

1995 Arnold Palmer

1995 Gary Player

1997 Colin Montgomerie OBE

1998 Ernie Els

1999 Paul Lawrie OBE

1999 Greg Norman

2001 Vijay Singh

2002 Retief Goosen

2003 Peter Alliss

2003 Bernard Gallacher OBE

2004 Neil Coles MBE

2004 Christy O’Connor

2004 John Panton MBE

2005 Michael Campbell

2007 Angel Cabrera

2007 Padraig Harrington

2008 Trevor Immelman

2010 Martin Kaymer

2010 Graeme McDowell MBE

2010 Louis Oosthuizen

2010 Tom Watson

2011 Darren Clarke OBE

2011 Rory McIlroy MBE

2011 Charl Schwartzel

2011 Lee Westwood OBE

2012 Luke Donald MBE

2012 Brian Huggett MBE

2012 Tommy Horton MBE

2012 Mark James

2012 Roger Chapman

2013 Dave Thomas

2013 Justin Rose MBE

2014 Jack Nicklaus

2016 Peter Oosterhuis

2016 Danny Willett

2016 Henrik Stenson

2017 Sam Torrance OBE

European Tour

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