Monday, 03 May 1999
Sam Torrance defends his Novotel Perrier Open de France title this week at Golf du Médoc, and the return to France will bring happy and emotional memories flooding back.

It was at Le Golf National in Paris last June that Torrance ended a three-year drought by winning the prestigious Open de France title – the 21st European Tour success of his distinguished career - in magnificent style.

Torrance struck a superb seven wood to 18 inches for a birdie at the 470-yard 17th in the last round then carried the lake with his second at the 513-yard 18th to set up a two-putt birdie.

Victory in the event which dates back to 1906 left Torrance choking back the tears and he said: “ It was a great thrill to win again - very emotional for me. It was definitely one of the victories I will remember with special affection having gone three years without a victory.

“I’ve never won a tournament the way I did at the National – that seven wood at the 17th on the last day will always stay with me. It has to be one of the greatest shots I’ve ever hit. That one stroke clinched the title and I won’t forget it in a hurry.”

Torrance is familiar with Golf du Médoc, having played in the Open Novotel Perrier tournament with partner Michael King two years ago.

He said: “ I liked the course, although I don’t think we performed too well. However the main thing at the moment is to get playing again. I’ve had a problem with a rib which keeps springing out and when that happens it has to be replaced. It was only diagnosed three weeks ago but I’m happier now that I know what the problem is.”

As well as the defending champion, the Bordeaux winners from 1998, Jarmo Sandelin and Olle Karlsson, will both be in the field along with new Masters champion José Maria Olazábal, the 1991 Augusta National champion, Ian Woosnam, and 1997 Ryder Cup Captain Seve Ballesteros.

Golf du Médoc is just a drive away from the vineyards of Médoc, between Bordeaux and the beaches of the Atlantic. The Chateaux course, designed by American Bill Coore, is similar in many respects to a Scottish links with wide fairways bordered by heather, gorse and broom.

The fast greens, influenced by the Atlantic winds, combine with an intriguing layout to provide a challenging course.

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