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British Open players remember Bob Torrance

HOYLAKE, England – What did Bob Torrance mean to golf? The black ribbons on the hats of competitors in the 143rd Open Championship said it all.

Torrance died yesterday at age 82 after a long battle with cancer. Players sported the black ribbons as a mark of respect to one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Stephen Gallacher, who worked with Torrance for many years.

“He was a character and had a lot of wisdom.”

When asked if he had any stories that would amplify Torrance’s larger-than-life character, Gallacher replied: “Have you got an hour?”

Gallacher was just one of many pupils who journeyed to Torrance’s home in Largs, Scotland, to work with the man who was synonymous with the term “old school.” Darren Clarke was another.

“In 1990 I played the Irish Open and my grouping was Sam and DJ Russell,” Clarke said. “Sam told me, ‘You need to turn pro sooner rather than later, and you need to start working with my dad.’

“I did and I spent many years, many days and hours with Bob, and June (Bob’s wife), working on everything. Bob was a very, very special man. I would not be the golfer that I am without the help of Bob Torrance.

“He will be sadly missed. He was a character. He was difficult to understand at times even for those of us who knew him. He was a great man. The world is a worse place without Bob Torrance.”

Marc Warren was another Scot who learned to play the game from Torrance.

“It’s a fitting tribute,” Warren said about the black ribbons. “I think we’ve seen on Twitter mainly how much he meant to a lot of people. It was a sad day yesterday and it continues to be a sad day today.”

Torrance meant so much that European Ryder cup captain Paul McGinley interrupted his trip to Royal Aberdeen for last week’s Scottish Open to visit Torrance. McGinley made a 400-mile round trip by car to see his former coach one last time.

Padraig Harrington won three majors while working with Bob, calling him a “father figure.”

“He gave so much to the game and we have so much in terms of his coaching, his humor, just himself that we’ve all gained,” Harrington said. “He was phenomenal over the years, and his passing is very sad, but Bob Torrance lived a very full life.

“He gave a huge amount in his life, and we’re all the better because of him.

“He did this game a great service. He loved it, and whoever came into contact with him walked away with a better experience. Isn’t that a fabulous way to go out of this world?”

Those black ribbons were not symbols of mourning, but tributes to the life and times of Bob Torrance.

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