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Torrance may go if James is sacked

There is growing speculation that if the Ryder Cup committee force Mark James to resign from his postion as vice captain to Sam Torrance when they meet on Tuesday, Torrance will quit in protest.

Last month, the tournament committee met to decide the fate of James, whose controversial account of his time as Ryder Cup captain, Into the Bear Pit, has won him few friends and plenty of enemies on both sides of the Atlantic. Widely seen as ill-judged, at best, the book reveals team room secrets and makes personal attacks on numerous players, including Tom Lehman, Tony Jacklin and Nick Faldo.

Most notoriously, he details an incident where he ripped up a good luck letter sent by Faldo to the team. Faldo is understandably furious and has been outspoken in his criticism of James and his insistence that James should resign from his positions as chairman of the tournament committee and Sam Torrance's deputy at the 2001 Ryder Cup.

The controversy has raged on since June, and when the tournament committee met at Loch Lomond, the week before the Open Championship, it was assumed in many quarters that James would either be forced to resign or would quit of his own volition. Incredibly, both he and Torrance stayed in the meeting throughout and, despite the fact that both had a vested interest in the matter, they were allowed to vote. Since Jean Van de Velde and Bernhard Langer, who were vehemently opposed to James's continuing presence in either capacity, were not present at the meeting, the vote was a supposed 10-0 whitewash.

Torrance chats to Jean van de Velde earlier this year. Allsport

Throughout the drama, James has remained unrepentant. He has failed to read the public mood and refused to accept that he has brought the game into disrepute. The European Tour has done the same, even going so far as to say that the rule that prevents one player from "slagging off" another, as Faldo put it, does not apply to the Ryder Cup. Other than that, they have maintained a petrified and frankly pitiful silence throughout, refusing to step in and intervene in a situation which could have been nipped in the bud three months ago.

All that was really required was for James to make a public apology to Faldo and some of the other victims in his book shortly after the exerpts appeared in the pages of the Daily Mail. The decent thing for James to do was always to resign, but, failing that, a public relations exercise by the Tour would have soon smoothed any ruffled feathers. However, as usual, they decided that not dealing with it was the best way of dealing with it. Now there is the possibility that Torrance will resign if the Ryder Cup committee removes his right-hand man. Having stood by James throughout, it will, he says, put him in a difficult position.

Even Torrance's father, Bob, a coach on the European Tour, was not sure what his son would do.

"What I do know is that Sam would be very upset if Mark had to go because he has supported him throughout," Bob told the Daily Mail. "Sam has weathered the storm very well and it's been a difficult time for everyone involved. It's Sam's business what he does and he's old enough and experienced enough to make decisions for himself."

He added: "It's a difficult situation to put right because so many people feel so strongly about certain things. Whatever happens, I just hope it's sorted out quickly so we can get on with the golf."

Phil Weaver, one of the committee members, said that it was unfortunate that James and Faldo "did not seem able to sort this out themselves or bury their differences, which is what one would have thought would have been the best outcome for all concerned."

So would James's resignation, but that hasn't happened either.

 

 

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