It’s funny how our lives change. If, 20 years ago, someone had told me that by the turn of the century, I would be living in Dallas Texas, and writing for a living, I would have laughed. I was 22 years old and I had a plan. I was a golfer, a pro, and I was going to make a fortune. I was right, but somehow I managed to spend one in the process. I played for a living for 20 years and never really got in front. However, in one way I did get rich. Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate, that’s what they say. I’m sure I have a few of the latter, but they have always been outnumbered by the good guys.
Tuesday night I was ambushed by Sam Torrance, the European Ryder Cup captain, and my former cellmate on the European Tour. On his way back to London from Los Angeles, where he had been shooting a commercial, he parachuted into Dallas for a day to visit me, and Erin Torrance Feherty, a 2-year-old girl whom he had never met. The whole thing was orchestrated by She Who Must Be Obeyed, and was a bonus for all involved.
Forgive me if this seems uncharacteristically melancholy, but I wish he could have hung around for a few days. As I write this on Wednesday night, he is heading east at high speed, undoubtedly snoring like a tranquilized rhino, in the first-class section of a British Airways jumbo. I’ve spent too many flights in the seat next to him to believe otherwise. Also, I slipped him a couple of Ambien for the trip. Life is too short to be awake on an airplane, especially when they put up that godawful screen with the little 747, that moves like Pac-man in a blasted Zimmer frame over the southern tip of Greenland. Everyone stares at the damn thing for hours, thinking the same thing. “I know the Earth is round, but this is definitely not the fastest way to get there.” It’s a conspiracy.
Sam and I have had curiously similar lives, in a remarkably different way. We both turned pro shortly after birth, but he could actually play. He rolls his own cigarettes, and has set himself on fire on several occasions, whereas I do not smoke, and have only set fire to myself once — with his Zippo in the south of France, when I tried to light a fart. Actually, I suppose I did light it. I remember the ash in my shorts, and a couple of days later, a painful stubble. Ah, those were the days. Sam had an agonizing tabloid divorce, as did I, but during his, he didn’t spend four hours in a rickshaw, and then at three o’clock in the morning, tearfully burst into my room in Singapore after drinking two bottles of vodka, wanting to talk. He listened. Sam has been spotted, in various hotels throughout the world, sleepwalking naked. I have been spotted a few moments later, partially clothed and usually panic stricken, searching for him. They say you should never wake a sleepwalker, but I suspect that’s a load of crap. However, I can assure you, there is a case to be made that you should never wake a naked, Scottish sleepwalker. If you happen to be a sheep, don’t even think about it.
Sam got married again, this time to the love of his life. So did I, except I married a different person. Both of these amazing, beautiful women risked their lives to have children for men who refuse to grow up, but exchange baby photos. Go figure.
If, 20 years ago, someone had told me that by the turn of the century I would see Sam Torrance only two or three times a year, I would have hated them for suggesting the possibility. These things happen for a reason though, of that I’m sure. I think of all the times I had to lean on him, and I look around me now, and I know that you don’t always have to be there, to be in someone’s life. You just have to be a friend. If I die with only one friend like Sam Torrance, I’ll be happy.
Of course, I’ll still be dead, but that would mean within days, I’d be thinner than him.