Ryder Cup: I ripped up my plan in first hour – Torrance

Darren Clarke, left, and Sam Torrance share a joke at Hazeltine

Darren Clarke, left, and Sam Torrance share a joke at Hazeltine

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Winning Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance reckons it’s impossible to see a formulated plan come off from start to finish in the famous transatlantic tussle.

Rival skippers Davis Love and Darren Clarke have both planned meticulously for the event’s 41st staging, which gets underway at Hazeltine in Minnesota today.

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The Americans are pinning their hopes on a carefully-crafted new structure that has been put in place following a heavy defeat at Gleneagles two years ago.

Europe, meanwhile, will be largely sticking to a template that has yielded three consecutive victories and eight in the last ten matches.

According to Torrance, though, both captains will need to factor in some fluidity in the battle to come out on top in golf’s biggest event in Chaska.

“When I arrived at The Belfry in 2002 I had the order for Friday morning, for Friday afternoon, for Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and the singles order. Done,” said the Scot, who is here as one of Clarke’s five vice-captains. “Not one of them stayed the same, I’d ripped up every one of them almost in the first hour.

“As captain you need to be thinking about this, you’ve formulated a plan and it’ll not be far from where it was meant to be. But it changes.”

Torrance altered his plan to good effect as Europe came out on top at the Sutton Coldfield venue, where the Ayrshireman also holed the winning putt in 1985.

Two years later, Torrance was on the first Great Britain & Ireland/European side to taste victory in the event on US soil.

Add in the fact he’s also been a vice-captain on two previous occasions, including for Paul McGinlay in Perthshire, and it’s easy to see why Clarke included him in a backroom room that includes Paul Lawrie, too.

“I’m here for my experience,” said Torrance, speaking at the back of the practice area before the Europeans headed out for the final practice round.

“Darren doesn’t need much help to be honest. I remember his acceptance speech when he won The Open at Sandwich was just magnificent. I didn’t expect that.

“I did expect him to win the Open but he was so ... I don’t want to say eloquent but he remembered everyone, very unemotional and it was fantastic.

“If you can do that when you’re won The Open, which I’ve never done, this’ll be like a piece of cake for him.

“Darren’s been fantastic, everything he’s done has been excellent. Every captain is different and each brings his own things to the matches.

“It’s often very subtle, you can’t always pinpoint what’s different, it’s just nice, everything’s where it should be, the players are well warned about everything.

“We’re there to assess the condition of the players head wise, game wise, to make sure they’re relaxed and happy, and they’ll be competitive.”

Having missed a large chunk of this season due to a foot injury, Ian Poulter, Europe’s talisman at Medinah four years ago, has been forced to settle for a vice-captain’s role on this occasion.

“I spoke to him last night, this is tough for him,” said Torrance of the Englishman. “He wants to play. If you gave him a set of clubs he’d be on the first tee tomorrow morning.

“It’s a different role for him, an early role, he shouldn’t be with us he should be playing, but he’s been injured and isn’t playing so he’s getting a taste of vice-captaincy.

“In 1999 (as a vice-captain for Mark James at Brookline), I learned more about my role as captain in that one match than I did playing in eight Ryder Cups. There’s just so much going on that you don’t know about as a player.

“You’re cossetted and stuff is getting sorted for you and you don’t even see it. What goes on behind those 12 people is amazing.”

Unfortunately for Lawrie, he’s spent the last two days in his hotel room after being hit with an untimely virus.

“I felt unwell on Wednesday morning, went to the course but came straight back and slept all day,” said the Aberdonian.

“I saw the doctor in the afternoon and he said I had a virus so it was best to stay in the room for a couple of days away from the team.”