x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lyle 'clears the air' over Monty comments

The Scottish golfer holds a press conference to announce that there is no grudge between the two players.

TURNBERRY // Sandy Lyle felt obliged to call a "clear the air" press conference at Turnberry as an apparent feud with Colin Montgomerie over the European Ryder Cup captaincy escalated into a row about alleged cheating. Lyle had made a stinging response to criticism he took a year ago for walking off the course at Royal Birkdale midway through his first round of the Open Championship. Asked whether that breach of etiquette had cost him the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy, he referred to an incident involving Montgomerie after a rain delay at the 2005 Indonesian Open. "Monty dropped the ball badly [when returning to play his shot from a bunker] and that is a form of cheating," said Lyle. "What he did was far worse." The comments came back to haunt Lyle yesterday morning and the furore led to his reading out a prepared statement. He then answered questions regarding a possible vendetta against Montgomerie, who was appointed captain ahead of Lyle when the European Tour players' committee made the decision at this year's Dubai Desert Classic. "I regret bringing up the 2005 Jakarta incident," said Lyle, who disclosed that his phone had never stopped ringing since the publication of his comments. "Colin Montgomerie and I are not at war. Colin is a great champion and a good friend. In my own bid for Ryder Cup captaincy, he was always one of my biggest supporters. Though I was personally disappointed by the decision of last February, I also always supported Colin as a Ryder Cup captain, and I will continue to offer my support. I feel especially bad if I have jeopardised his preparation for The Open championship." Lyle has promised to make a personal apology to Montgomerie. "I did try but I have not succeeded yet," he said. "He's keeping behind the scenes at the moment." wjohnson@thenational.ae