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Like a hen and her eggs, Torrance has been sitting on this for a while

It was possibly one of the worst kept secrets in golf.

Sam Torrance's moustache rises up with a cackle of mischievous delight yesterday.  Picture: Getty Sport
Sam Torrance's moustache rises up with a cackle of mischievous delight yesterday. Picture: Getty Sport

Ever since Paul McGinley named Sam Torrance as the skipper of the Great Britain & Ireland team for the Seve Trophy back in August of last year, even those eking out a humble existence in the Ecuadorian rainforest had a good idea that the celebrated Scot would be a European vice-captain at this September's Ryder Cup.

Yesterday's official unveiling in the grand Edwardian edifice of the Government of Ireland building in Dublin, therefore, was about as spontaneous as the D-Day landings. In this golfing military operation, McGinley, who also unsurprisingly named his valued old mentor and "voice of reason" Des Smyth as another of his assistants, has gone with those trusted, experienced veterans who have seen it and done it on the frontline of many a Ryder Cup campaign down the seasons.

Compared to Tom Watson and his Dad's Army of Andy North, who is 63, and the redoubtable 71-year-old Raymond Floyd, McGinley has opted for something of a youth policy given that Torrance and Smyth are only 60 and 61 respectively.

The call to arms for Torrance may have been finally confirmed to all and sundry yesterday morning but, like a brooding hen snuggling itself down on to its collection of prized eggs, he has had to sit on it for a heck of a long time.

"I've known for bloody months," he said as his trademark moustache rose up with a cackle of mischievous delight. "It's like getting an honour from The Queen; you can't tell anyone. I've probably known for a year. It's been a bloody nightmare. My wife knew, as did my mum and dad . . . and about four bookies that would take my bet."

McGinley's respect for Torrance is well-documented and theirs is a relationship built on extremely solid foundations as well as hefty layer of fun. "Load of bollocks," mimicked Torrance as he overheard McGinley blethering away to the assembled press. This mutual admiration society has its roots in the 2002 contest at The Belfry when the Irishman, galvanised by Torrance's man-management as a captain, holed the winning putt for Europe.

"If I can do a tenth for Paul's team what he did for my team, then we'll both be very happy men," added Torrance, who also enjoyed three victories as a player over the course of eight Ryder Cups. "I was never more proud in my career than when I put on this European sweater and it's no different this time."

This is very much an old pals' act with a purpose. "We are more than mates, to be honest," said McGinley, who played on three Ryder Cups and has been a vice-captain twice. "It's not that I speak to him every day but Sam is a guy I have had a very close bonding with since 2002. He was my first captain, and I'm not saying other captains weren't as good. That would be unfair. But Sam was my first captain. It was the first time I was exposed to the Ryder Cup."

Torrance had been around it for a few years before that, of course. From a debut as a player in 1981 to a triumphant stint as skipper in 2002, the Scot's career has been defined by the biennial battle for the little gold chalice. He has had his moments and they will take some beating.

"I've had my time, as a player and a captain, and I'll never forget it," he reflected. "It's been an amazing experience. This is different as I've been brought in for a reason - my knowledge - and it is a great honour. There's nothing like being told you are captain. It was the highlight of my career, by a billion miles. This is a great honour, too, don't get me wrong, but you can't get better than the captaincy in a Ryder Cup."

Being part of a winning team on Scottish soil wouldn't be bad for this son of Scotland, though.

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