Gallacher tips Torrance and Lawrie to have Ryder Cup impact

Darren Clarke, centre, with, from left, vice-captains Thomas Bjorn, Sam Torrance, Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington. Pic: Getty
Darren Clarke, centre, with, from left, vice-captains Thomas Bjorn, Sam Torrance, Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington. Pic: Getty
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Mixed in with Ian Poulter’s chest beating in the European team room at Hazeltine will be some “good Scottish common-sense”, which Bernard Gallacher sees being provided by both Paul Lawrie and Sam Torrance.

Lawrie, a two-time Ryder Cup player, is getting his first taste of being involved in the event in a supporting role, something Torrance, a winning captain in 2002, did successfully for Paul McGinley at Gleneagles two years ago and now brings more experience to the table than any of the vice-captains across both teams at Hazeltine.

“Sam has been there and done it when it comes to the Ryder Cup,” said Gallacher of his fellow Scot. “He’s holed the winning putt and been a winning captain. He’s also helped Paul McGinley. He’ll help the players relax due to his down-to-earth nature.

“I know it’s not just a normal week, but I feel Sam can take pressure off people by just acting normal. There’s no airs and graces with Sam. He’ll treat the Ryder Cup like any other week and that’s what you want.

“As for Paul Lawrie, the great thing about him is that he is close to the players and the players respect him for what he has done to help young players. You can’t have too many people involved who know the team members. It’s the opposite to what happened with Tom Watson at Gleneagles, where there was definitely a generation gap.

“Paul knows the players, as does Darren, Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter. They will know who might need encouragement at certain times, who can play with who and that is crucial.

“If any of the younger players are feeling apprehensive about anything, I am sure they can speak to Paul as he is also down to earth and easy to speak to. Both Paul and Sam have good Scottish common-sense and I think that’s what Darren will be looking for.”

Gallacher tasted little success when he played in the event when it was still Great Britain & Ireland before helping turn the tide, first as Tony Jacklin’s assistant then as a winning captain himself at Oak Hill in 1995.

Having lost eight out of the last 10 matches, the Americans set up a task force in the wake of a defeat at Gleneagles two years ago and are pinning faith in the people involved in that to come up with a winning formula in Minnesota.

“In the early days, when we were GB&I, it was difficult to foresee this happening,” said Gallacher of the task force. “But, when it became Europe and Tony Jacklin then took over the captaincy, it coincided with the arrival of some really good players – Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer then Jose Maria Olazabal. The Americans had been strong until that point then we became very strong.

“The Americans played awful at both Oakland Hills in 2004 and The K Club two years later, but, underneath the scorelines in recent years, the matches are closer than you think and I believe this one will be the same.

“When Colin Montgomerie’s team won at Celtic Manor, we did well in the session that was rained off and everyone was on the course in foursomes and fourballs at the one time.

“We then had the Miracle at Medinah, of course, when we came from four points down heading into the singles while at Gleneagles two years ago, when Paul McGinley admittedly did a great job and it was a fantastic victory, we won the two foursomes sessions 7-1.

“What I’m trying to say is that it’s been down to dominating one series that has carried us through in recent matches and the Americans, remember, were well in the lead at Medinah after the opening two days before more or less collapsing in the singles.”

This European side contains six rookies – the highest number since Montgomerie went into battle with the same contingent in Wales in 2010 and one less than a losing team at Brookline in 1999.

“With so many rookies in the side there is a big responsibility on the guys who have been there before and we are lucky that in Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, we are talking about major winners,” noted Gallacher. “Sergio Garcia also has a great record in the Ryder Cup and knows the American conditions, too. The pressure will be on the established players to nurse or help the newcomers.”