An emotional Sam Torrance will make his first competitive appearance in eight months when he plays in the SSE Scottish Senior Open at the Fairmont St Andrews this weekend, writes Nick Rodger.
It will be a bittersweet moment for the 60-year-old. Returning to the course he designed always stirs the senses but the grief at the passing of his father, and world renowed coach, Bob, last month remains raw.
"It's absolutely fantastic to be back but I haven't played for a long time so I have no great aspirations this week," said Torrance, who has not appeared on the European Senior circuit since last December's MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius. "I don't know whether it will help to take my mind off things being my first day back but it hasn't helped so far to be honest. I'm really just getting by. But I'll just go out there and try to enjoy myself and enjoy this great course."
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Torrance, a three-time Senior Tour No.1 who finished just a shot behind the eventual champion Santiago Luna in last season's Scottish Open, is one of Paul McGinley's vice-captains for next month's Ryder Cup and the Scot will be joined in the St Andrews field by Irishman Des Smyth, another member of Team Europe's backroom team.
Smyth helped Ireland win the 1988 Dunhill Cup over the Old Course and a return to the Auld Grey Toon always rouses the spirits. "I was down there the other having a walk around the old hallowed ground and there is nowhere else like this place in the world," he said.
Another man to enjoy success in St Andrews was Rick Gibson, who was part of the Canadian team that won the Dunhill Cup 20 years ago. Now a member of golf's golden oldies, Gibson is flourishing in his 50s. He won his maiden title on the senior scene in July's Bad Ragaz PGA Senior Open before going on to post a share of third in the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl.
Ian Woosnam, the former Masters champion and Ryder Cup-winning captain, returns for another stab at the Scottish title while the likes of Andrew Oldcorn, Bill Longmuir, Ross Drummond, Gordon Brand Jr and Stephen McAllister will be trying to become the first Scottish winner since Torrance in 2006.