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Faldo & Langer favourites for 2004 Ryder Cup

As the party raged through Sunday night following Europe's victory in the 34th Ryder Cup, a number of Sam Torrance's team asked the Scot to stay on for a second term as captain. "Yes, but they were all drunk," said Torrance, bleary-eyed, softly spoken but perfectly content yesterday morning.

Having helped engineer Europe's third win in four matches, moulding 12 individuals into a team and tactically getting the better of his opposite number, Curtis Strange, Torrance did his best to deflect the inevitable speculation about continuing as captain for the match in two years' time in Detroit without categorically ruling it out.

"I have no idea," he said. "I'll reflect and think about it. My plan is not to, obviously. I really don't think I will do it, to be honest. It's been three fantastic years but it's someone else's turn now. I don't want to think about the next one, let's enjoy this one."

With a backlog of former players ready to take over it would be a surprise if Torrance were handed a second term by the Ryder Cup committee but if the Scot wanted to take it on it may be hard to refuse him. Now 49, at this time next year he will be eligible for the Seniors Tour. Even if he did not go to the United States full time and played mostly on the circuit in Europe, he would be away from the main tour. "You only get three or four years to play your best in the Seniors," Torrance said. "The last three years I have found it tough to play, although it has been absolutely worth it."

As successors go, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer have outstanding credentials. They have won more points than anyone else in Ryder Cup history and have vast experience. Working for American television, as well as Sky, during the match, Faldo could not help himself getting caught up in the drama over the three days.

There is a suspicion that Faldo rubbed enough people up the wrong way during his ruthless quest for six major titles that his interest in the captaincy now might be dismissed as a belated charm offensive. But there are also those who believe it would be churlish to deny Faldo the honour after his contribution to the Ryder Cup over many years.

There is no doubt that Langer will be captain one day but his availability for 2004 may be affected by his failing to rule himself out of making the team again as a player at the age of 47. "The way he played this week at the age of 45 was quite incredible," said Torrance. "He is very fit and he's probably got another one in him as a player. But he will certainly be captain one day. He has many great qualities and will make a supreme captain. He thinks of everything."

As an example, Torrance revealed that once Langer had finished his singles, he told the captain to tell the other players to hit an eight-iron off the tee at the 10th because due to the position of the flag on the green, the seven-iron that the German had played was too much club.

While Torrance was still at the 18th green as the Tiger Woods-Jesper Parnevik match was putting out, he received a congratulatory call from Seve Ballesteros. "He was thrilled and said well done," Torrance said. "Ollie [Jose Maria Olazabal] also called the team room three times before he got hold of me. It was much appreciated."

Torrance also revealed one of the secrets passed on by the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "He tried to explain what it is like to manage a team. He said there are no superstars. They are all the same. That was the key. Everyone was made to feel as if they were a major part of the team.

"I spoke to them all throughout the week and on Sunday on the first tee I said: 'This is going to be the best day of your life. You were born to do this job. This is what we live for.' And out of the shadows come heroes. I said to them last night: 'Thank God I'm going to the Seniors Tour because you guys are too good for me'."

He added: "We had a tremendous night. I think David Duval was the last person to leave our team room. Hal Sutton came in, as did Curtis. Great spirit for them to be so gracious. Duval was ridiculous. He left with a European hat on and he was singing. Absolutely fabulous."

On the way to a photocall by the 10th yesterday, Torrance, carrying the trophy, came across a group of amateurs on the tee, albeit the forward one not used in the match. Cigarette in mouth, a bad shoulder, and with unfamiliar clubs, he put two balls on to the green. It was that sort of week. "I wish I could bottle it and take a wee sip every day for the rest of my life."


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