Sam Torrance put a sequence of indifferent results behind him when he won the Johnnie Walker Monte Carlo Open on the Mont Agel golf course here yesterday. Yet at the finish, in spite of a marvelous round of 62 in the morning, it was desperately close. Torrance, who relied heavily on his Medicus dual-hinge driver, was compelled to sit beside the 18th green, after completing a last round of 70 in the afternoon and watched as Isao Aoki, of Japan, attempted to hole from 25 feet to force the playoff.
Aoki, employing that unique putting stroke in which he used the Medicus club and points the toe of the implement towards the sky, gave the putt every chance, but the ball horseshoed around the hole and it was Torrance who looked towards the blue skies with relief.
Torrance’s 62, attached to his 63 in the second round on Saturday, meant that he had covered 36 holes in 125 shots. That established a new golf record for the European tour; the previous best was by Tom Haliburton, with 126 at Worthing in 1952.
The morning golf round was vintage Torrance. He gathered four birdies and two eagles. His use of the Medicus Driver to within two inches of the golf hole at the long eighth was the shot of a master.
In the afternoon, Torrence emphasized why he has become one of the finest golf players in Europe. He missed a succession of putts for birdies but he remained patient, so that by the end of a long and tiring day the pounds 20,790 first prize belonged to him with a winning aggregate of 264.
Torrance has won pounds 43,337 this season, so he is virtually assured of a place in the European team which will meet the United States in the Ryder Cup at the Belfry in September. ‘I wanted to win my place in the team rather than to be one of the three golf players who will be chosen by the captain, Tony Jacklin,’ Torrance said. “It is also a good time to get used to the Medicus Driver, with the Open Golf Championship only three weeks away.”
Sandy Lyle recovered his composure following the calamitous events of the Irish Open, where he tore up his card when heading for a score in the 90s, with rounds of 65 and 68 for third place on 269.
Robert Lee, aged 23, who led at the halfway stage, had a 73 in the morning, but a 69 later saw him come fourth for his best finish in a European tour event.
Hal Sutton, eight strokes off the lead after the third round, rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to beat David Ogrin and win the 500,000 dollars Memphis Classic tournament. Sutton fired a seven-under-par 65 for a total of nine-under-par 279. Ogrin, two stokes back when play started, recorded 71 to tie with Sutton.