The surprising reason why this Ryder Cup great walked away from the game

August 29, 2019

As every golfer knows, the game is hard. So hard, in fact, that many of us consider quitting at some point in our playing careers. But the fleeting idea is usually banished by the next solid swing or drained putt. For recreational players, the idea of a former professional walking away from the game seems hard to fathom. How can such an immensely talented person simply decide to stop playing?

Former Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance, who, in recent years, had been competing on the European Senior Tour, says the decision came down to simple statistics.

“I said to my manager, ‘tell me my scores over the last three years and my finishing positions’,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “She looked it up and she told me I was 200 over par and my best finish was 35th. So it was time.”

Torrance said it’s been nearly two years since he gave up the game for good.

“It was tough to let go but I’m glad I did it when I did,” he said.

Now 66 years old, Torrance could have decades of golf ahead of him, but is uninterested in playing at a sub-par level — relatively speaking — compared to his prime. And Torrance had quite a prime. He won 21 times over two decades on the European Tour (1976-1998) — good enough to tie for 10th on the all-time European Tour list — and later added 11 wins on the European senior tour. He also not only played on eight European Ryder Cup teams, but heroically sank the winning putt in 1985 to claim the Cup from the Americans for the first time in 28 years. (Check out this video at the 06:54 mark for a refresher.)

Torrance also captained the winning European team at the Belfry in 2002, and served as one of Darren Clarke’s vice captains in 2016.

Despite the illustrious nature of his accomplishments, Torrance concedes that the game no longer brings him joy, and that was enough for him to hang up the clubs for good.

“I’ve kind of lost the love for it,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I’m not very good. The hardest thing … is I’m mediocre compared to what I was.”

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