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Secret weapon won us Ryder glory .. my wife; THE STUNNING ACTRESS WHO INSPIRES CUP CAPTAIN.


IT was the high point in Sam Torrance's long and illustrious golfing career.

His Ryder Cup team had, against all the odds, defied the pundits and trounced the mighty Americans.

But even in the euphoria of victory, Sam put it into perspective.

"This has been very special to me. Only the birth of my children and my marriage to my wife has meant more," an emotional Sam said at the tournament's closing ceremony on Sunday.

And at those words, the television cameras caught his wife Suzanne, sitting proudly in the select crowd at the Belfry golf course in Warwickshire. Her chin quivered and her eyes filled.

That very public victory, played out before a crowd of thousands and a worldwide TV audience in the tens of millions, belonged to her as much as him.

"I owe so much to Suzanne. My family give me such strength and Suzanne is my secret weapon. I'm more laid back and less anxious these days and that is due to her," the charismatic 49-year-old golfer admits.

"She has changed me a hell of a lot. She's made me a much better person in every way. I wouldn't be who I am now if it wasn't for Suzanne, - and I wouldn't be the captain."

Remarkably enough, the couple's story begins 15 years earlier at another Ryder Cup.

It was while travelling on Concorde to the 1987 Ryder Cup tournament in Columbus, Ohio, that Sam Torrance asked long-term girlfriend, actress Suzanne Danielle, to marry him.

The ecstatic Suzanne - whose repertoire stretched from playing Lady Di to Mike Yarwood's Charles, hostess on the gameshow 3-2-1, roles in Dr Who and The Professionals and a saucy spot beside Kenneth Williams in Carry On Emmanuelle - agreed instantly.

There was no ring to seal the pact, so the extrovert from Ayrshire improvised with an elastic band. It was a gesture that sealed one of sport's most enduring relationships.

The European team went on to win the tournament, their first victory on American soil.

Torrance had already assured his place in golfing history when he famously holed the winning putt in the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, ending a 28-year barren sequence for the Europeans.

At the time it was the peak of a topsy-turvy career that never quite fulfilled its potential - until now.

The one constant has been the unswerving and level-headed support of Suzanne. She's known as a strong personality.

As captain's wife, Suzanne was responsible for setting the dress code. Not for her the stiff Stepford Wives' uniform adopted by the American team - Suzanne set a much more relaxed approach which was deeply appreciated by her fellow wives.

"We're at the Ryder Cup in a supporting role. On the Monday and Tuesday, the feeling is almost one of being back at school.

"The ice begins to break and you are left with a fabulous team spirit. By the end, you have made friends you keep for the rest of your life," Suzanne says.

It's a sense of team spirit her husband is first to acknowledge.

"We discuss everything. Partnerships, teams, the whole lot. Suzanne has been a stalwart. She has helped me in almost every aspect of the preparations for the Cup," he says.

SUZANNE could hardly be better qualified to be a captain's wife.

She is no quitter and was reared on the old showbiz adage that the show must go on.

The London-born actress once hobbled on stage in agony for a Royal Command Performance after tearing a hamstring.

Before the show, former newscaster Angela Rippon had helped Suzanne loosen the muscles in her injured leg.

But when the music started, Suzanne gave the performance of her life.

"You can't have a headache or anything else," she says. "You have to perform."

It's that kind of grit which has helped her husband, not only on the course but, more importantly, off it. She is the backbone of the stable family life that has enabled Torrance to concentrate on his career with such explosive effect.

The couple share their pounds 1.6million home in Surrey, with their three children, Daniel, 14, Phoebe, 10, and Anouska, seven. Their snooker room is a shrine to the Ryder Cup captain's golfing achievements.

For 30 years and more than 600 tournaments, Torrance's career has been a jumble of glory and frustration.

As a younger man he enjoyed a drink, smoked and liked a bet - but now has Suzanne to thank for keeping him on the straight and narrow.

Since hitting middle-age, Slammin' Sam has cut back on the alcohol and halted a 60-a-day smoking habit - and devoted more time to his family.

"The children mean something to me which I have difficulty putting into words. I come off a golf course and seeing them puts me into a happy frame of mind, regardless of what I have shot. Golf has become pretty secondary really.'' Suzanne, 45, and Sam met just weeks after she emerged from a long-term relationship with fellow actor Patrick Mower.

Mower remembers: "I'm a keen golfer and Suzanne and I met Sam at the same time. He helped me with my golf. It wasn't like Suzanne left me for him."

After a prolonged courtship culminating in the Concorde marriage proposal, the relationship settled into a happy partnership. It wasn't until eight years later, in 1995, that they finally tied the knot. Even then, Sam sprung it as a surprise on Suzanne.

He had made secret arrangements at Skibo Castle in Sutherland, where Madonna would later marry Guy Ritchie.

Staff at the Castle were sworn to secrecy and on a Saturday afternoon Suzanne came down the ornate castle staircase to be met by Torrance who handed her a gold chain, a ring and a note saying: "Would you marry me?" Suzanne shouted: "Yes" and Dornoch cathedral minister Rev Tom Milroy emerged from the wings to perform the ceremony.

Sam Torrance was destined to become a golfing great. As a boy he not only had the natural talent, but his father Bob was one of the world's most respected golfing teachers.

Bob got the young Sam interested in golf when he was professional at Rossendale in Lancashire.

After moving back to Largs aged 10, Sam left school without any qualifications at 13, and was playing off scratch at 14.

In between rounds of golf, he would take any casual work, laying cables or mending roofs.

But golf was always going to be his chosen path and in his late teens he became assistant professional at Sunningdale in Surrey in 1970.

By 1972 he underlined his arrival on the European Tour by winning the coveted Rookie of the Year title.

By 1998 - 21 circuit titles and five Scottish Professional Championships later - he had become the first golfer to appear in 600 tour events. In the same year, he won his 21st title at the Peugeot Open.

Sam has different ambitions for his own son Daniel - who is already showing remarkable talent.

"I want him to enjoy himself," he says. "I think my dad worked me too hard when I was a kid. At the time I agreed with him that I wouldn't win a tournament with a crap swing.

"But at Daniel's age I think I worked too hard."

His dad Bob is unrepentant: "If you'd shown the commitment of Gary Player you would have won a string of Majors," he told Torrance.

But Sam believes his winning putt in 1985 was better than victory in any Major - in fact he regards it as the greatest moment of his career.

Until perhaps this Sunday, when once again amid emotional scenes at his spiritual home, the Belfry, he tasted victory.

And as ever, it was Suzanne, the woman who has been his inspiration and closest ally, who was at his side.


FUNNY GIRL: With Eric Morecambe; CARRY ON: Suzanne and Williams; STRIKING: Suzanne on the golf course and modelling; A TEAM: Suzanne has been Torrance's rock for years; TRIUMPH: With the Ryder Cup; ON THE WAY: Sam aged 20; MENTOR: Sam with his dad Bob; HONOUR: Sam is awarded an MBE
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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