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Torrances Gamble Pays Big

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SUTTON COLDFIELD, England ' Soccer-style cheers echoed throughout the countryside. Chants unfamiliar to Americans, but like nursery rhymes to those local.
 
The Ryder Cup was back in European hands, and patrons expressed their enthusiasm for hours.
 
But there was one man, a man of quick wit and betraying emotion, to whom the victory meant most.
 
Sam Torrances golfing essence is steeped in the Ryder Cup Matches. He played on each occasion from 1981-1995. Over the years hes seen it all evolve ' from European futility to respectability to repeated victory.
 
In 1985, he holed the putt that gave the Europeans their first Cup win in 28 years. Seventeen years later he returned to the site of that historical occasion, The Belfry, and captained his team to another remarkable triumph.
 
Apart from my marriage and the birth of my children, without a doubt this is the proudest moment of my life, said Torrance, eyes swelling with pride and tears.
 
The sentiment wasnt lost on his players, either. They knew the importance of winning this week, not just to them, but to their leader as well.
 
Its been a privilege to be captained by a truly emotional Scot in Sam Torrance, said Colin Montgomerie, who grew up in the same county as his captain. I am so proud to be a part of his team this week.
 
We cant say enough about our leadership, added Bernhard Langer, who played with Torrance in all eight of the Scots Ryder Cup appearances.
 
After two days the competition was a wash ' deadlocked at eight points apiece. It was time for Torrance to earn his true keep as captain.
 
He stacked his team heavy up front, sending out his best players to stockpile precious points. The strategy was daring. What if they failed? Could the rookies and the out-of-form be counted upon to take on the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson?
 
The questions were presented. But not by his team.
 
Sam had an idea of the draw and it worked out brilliantly. It was a risk, but in life you dont get rewards without risking, Montgomerie said.
 
Everybody on the team just knew we were going to win tomorrow, Jesper Parnevik said after looking at the line-up Saturday night. And it was not one of those wishful, 'I hope were going to win,' it was, 'We know were going to win tomorrow.''
 
They knew of the past, too, when the Americans put forth their best early in 1999 and ambushed the Europeans at Brookline. That year the U.S. trailed by four points entering the final session. They won the first six singles matches and prevailed by a point. It was a lesson learned, and one applied three years later.
 
In Brookline, when Monty and I looked at each other at pretty much the same time when the (singles) draw came up, we stared into each others eyes and said, Where are we going to get the points tomorrow? Parnevik said.
 
Sam did exactly what we wanted, or what we needed when he made the draw. And I think that was the best move of the week.
 
The move paid off in the form of a 7 - 4 singles victory, and a 15 - 12 team win. His men won five of the first eight matches Sunday, and halved another, leaving U.S. captain Curtis Strange impressed by his colleague.
 
Sam did one remarkable job today. And I mean by that I thought he took a hell of a gamble by front-loading his team like he did, Strange said. Ive never seen somebody front-load like that and play on home-field advantage, it looks pretty good now, it really does.
 
And it feels good, too. After the closing ceremonies Torrrance sat alongside his troops and fielded question from the media. All the while, he heard the chants from outside.
 
'Can we keep the questions brief?' he asked. 'Sounds like a hell of a party out there.'
 
A party where Torrance was the guest of honor.
 
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches