THE huge influence Bob Torrance, who has passed away at the age of 82 after losing his battle with cancer, had on Scottish golf was glaringly obvious with a glance at the leaderboard at the Open yesterday.
The two leading competitors from this country at the halfway stage at Hoylake, Marc Warren and Stephen Gallacher, both came under the expert guidance of the Largs teacher earlier in their careers.
Both of the Scots last night paid emotional tributes to Torrance and spoke in glowing terms of the significant impact that the coach had on their careers and the man had on their lives. Warren carded five pars and four birdies on the back nine to post a four-under-par 68 and move to five-under-par for the tournament and into a share of ninth place. The Glasgow golfer admitted that he would not be in such a prominent position in a major championship had he not worked with the highly respected swing guru.
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"It's a sad day for golf," Warren said. "A legend has passed away. He changed my career massively. Still to this day, and for the rest of my career, his words of wisdom will stay with me.
"When I first started seeing Bob it was 2002, I was 80th in the Challenge Tour rankings. Three months later I'd won twice on that circuit. I was then Rookie of the Year on the European Tour, won in Sweden, won at Gleneagles and won the World Cup. I might not be playing at this level if it wasn't for him. I can't speak highly enough of him and his knowledge of the golf swing. He would give everything he had to make you the best player you could be. I'll be forever in his debt for that."
Gallacher, who carded a level-par 72 to finish just three shots adrift of his countryman on two-under-par, echoed those sentiments after the sad news had been broken to him. "I'm gutted," he said. "He was a massive influence on my career from a young age. He was like a father figure to me. Everything I know about the game is probably through Bob.
"The first time I met him was down at Inverclyde and the snow was hitting the back of the bay. He was such a positive guy and I loved working with him.
"I went down to see him two or three weeks ago and it was sad to see him then. I really feel for June, Sam and the rest of the Torrance family.
"I've got millions of stories about him. He was larger than life. He was always positive and funny, too. He would teach you for as long as you wanted to be there - even if it was in the dark.
"He was one of the hardest workers that I have ever knew. He had an eye for a golf swing and knew how to fix it without becoming too technical. He was never one for using a camera - he just used his eyes. He also had such a knowledge of the game.
"He's seen it all and done it all, working with Ian Woosnam, for instance, and Sam, of course. He also went to see Ben Hogan so he knew what he was talking about. I probably wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for working with Bob over the years."
Warren and Gallacher will be joined in the last two rounds at Hoylake by their compatriot Jamie McLeary. The Peterhead man carded a one over-par 73 to finish on two over-par for 36 holes and survive the cut by a shot. Elsewhere, though, Paul McKechnie, Scott Jamieson and Paul Lawrie, Bradley Neil and Sandy Lyle all have the weekend off.