Portuguese Algarve Open
Portuguese Algarve Open
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Torrance still hungry in 27th tour season

Veteran Sam Torrance restarts his season by launching a bid for a ninth Ryder Cup appearance when he takes on the young bloods of Europe in the Algarve Portuguese Open starting on Thursday.

The 45-year-old Scot will be on familiar territory - at the Penina course where he learned his profession under the legendary British Open champion Henry Cotton.

Torrance, in his 27th year on tour and playing his 605th tournament, sets out five weeks after succumbing to yet another injury in an accident-prone career.

He struggled through two painful rounds of the Heineken Classic in Perth, Australia, and then took a forced layoff through neck and back pain which was diagnosed as, among other things, a dislocated rib.

Physiotherapy and gym work, though, has got him back to full fitness and he is confident that he can launch his Ryder Cup season with a victory worth 100,000 dollars in Portugal.

His goal now is to be one of European Ryder Cup captain Mark James's players and not one of his vice-captains, the position he has been offered.

"I'll be there as a player and not as an official," vowed Torrance, who missed selection in 1997 after eight successive appearances.

"There are so many fine young players out there but that doesn't rule me out.

"And it would be great to get my season really going here this week, because this is where it all started for me.

"I came here in 1972 as a prize for winning rookie of the year and I spent two weeks learning the game from just about the best in the business, Henry Cotton."

He said he felt fine after being forced to lay off golf and at last go to the gym.

"For 27 years I've been promising myself to do so and now I've had it forced on me," he said.

One of the young players Torrance knows he is up against this week and for the Ryder Cup is in-form 23-year-old fellow Briton David Howell.

The young Englishman, winner of last month's Dubai Desert Classic, leads Europe's rankings currently and holds sixth place on the Ryder Cup table.

In a tournament shorn of all of last week's European World Championship Matchplay event players in California but for Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Howell begins co-favourite with Qatar Masters champion Paul Lawrie, another Briton.

Defending champion is Britain's Peter Mitchell but the English journeyman is favouring a back-muscle injury.