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Torrance gives James his full backing

Sam Torrance and Jean Van de Velde in conversation during the Smurfit European Open.Allsport.

The wrangle over Mark James's European Ryder Cup vice-captaincy took a further twist on Thursday when he quashed a rumour he had resigned as Sam Torrance's assistant for next year's match at The Belfry.

James denied he had even thought about quitting and Torrance reiterated he would be giving his "very dear friend" the all-clear to carry on as joint number two.

The issue of whether James has the European tournament players' full backing will be discussed by the players next Tuesday. Torrance hopes it will then be finally laid to rest.

James prompted the controversy with revelations in his book 'Into the Bear Pit,' causing a row between himself and Nick Faldo, whom he accused of undermining Europe's 1999 Ryder Cup team which James captained.

The two have been at loggerheads since and this week Faldo claimed he had support from players who wanted James to step down from the vice-captaincy.

James said he was sure Faldo did not have great support.

Now, after James insisted he is not resigning, the issue could come to a head next Tuesday.

"The air has to be cleared," said Torrance. "It's gone on long enough.

"The most important thing is the team and I'm the one who's looking after the team. It's obviously a problem between Nick Faldo and Mark James.

"Jesse (James) is there to help me and Ian Woosnam (the other vice-captain) is there to help me.

"I phoned Mark James yesterday to assess his feelings on all the press stories about this. I told him I want him to carry on.

"He's a very dear friend, experienced and intelligent.

"At the moment there's a lot of sabre-rattling and drum beating but it will all come out in the wash and people have to remember that winning the match next year is the important thing."


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