x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sandy Lyle is the fuming Scotsman

The two-time major winner continues to be overlooked for a place in the Hall of Fame as he returns to the scene of his British Open triumph in 1985 this weekend.

Lyle says it is affecting him as it is stopping him from playing champions tours.
Lyle says it is affecting him as it is stopping him from playing champions tours.

Sandy Lyle returns this week to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs with the feeling of being ignored and unappreciated.

The veteran Scot is back at Royal St George's where, in 1985, he became the first home player to win a British Open for 16 years.

That came three years before Lyle was the first ever European winner of the US Masters.

Who can forget his bunker shot on the 18th on that Sunday in 1988 when he produced genuine moment of golfing history as the ball landed 20 feet from the hole and then spun back to gift him an unlikely birdie? Well, actually a lot of people seem to have forgotten.

Lyle has been constantly overlooked for the World Golf Hall of Fame, whose members include the former US president George W Bush, and it has angered him.

Speaking to the Scotsman newspaper, Lyle said: "I'm not sure why I have been ignored, but it's stopping me playing in events on the Champions tours. I won two majors, a Player's Championship, six wins in America and who knows how many in Europe. You would think that is a pretty strong argument for me to be in.

"I've been on the shortlist for 15 years, or so I gather, and I live in hope that one day it will happen. Hopefully it's not too late."

Lyle was one of the "big five" of European golf in the 1980s, along with Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo.

He will be the only one not to captain the Ryder Cup team. His time was supposed to come last year, but the committee opted for Colin Montgomerie because he was, apparently, closer to the players.

When Tony Jacklin won the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1969, a schoolboy in the grandstand by the 18th green almost caught the ball he tossed into the crowd. That 11-year-old boy was Lyle.

Fast forward to 1985 and he started the final day three shots behind Langer and Australia's David Graham, the overnight leaders.

They collapsed on the back nine, Lyle did not. Even when he got into trouble at the 18th - his third shot failed to make the putting surface - he still got down in two for a par to ensure he held on to his one-shot lead.

"Of the five of us, Sandy was the best player," said Ballesteros.

It was a line he used more than once. But it seems that is still not enough to be a Hall of Famer.