“It’s going to be a memorable last week at The Open.”
As part of the unique marketing partnership between The 147th Open and Scottish Rugby two of Scotland’s sporting heroes, Sandy Lyle and Gavin Hastings met to discuss the forthcoming 147th Open.
“I was born into golf” said Lyle – his father was a club professional and The Open has always been a part of his life. Growing up close to Royal Birkdale, Lyle attended The Open in 1969 at Royal Lytham & St Annes and reminisced about how he almost caught the ball of Champion Golfer Tony Jacklin. Little did anybody know that Lyle would become the next Briton to win The Open sixteen years later.
Fittingly, Sandy Lyle arrived at Royal Lytham & St Annes as a 16-year-old amateur to play in his first Open. Unbeknown that as he approaches his 60th birthday he is second in appearances at The Open.
The 147th Open will be Lyle’s 43rd appearance at golf’s oldest major. Only Gary Player has played more – 46. Whilst he recognises that he may not match Player’s record, he is keen to try: “there are opportunities to get into The Open through the Seniors Tour or by Qualifying. I’m not embarrassed to go and try qualify.”
Lyle’s exemption as Champion Golfer runs out after Carnoustie but despite admitting it may be his last he admits: “I will be working hard to keep my game in reasonable shape.
“Tom [Watson] was one week off sixty and almost pulled The Open [Turnberry 2009] off. That should tell you it’s possible.”
“It’s going to be a memorable last week at The Open. I’m going to have to wear two hats: the serious side as far as competing and I’m going to have to be the Father and the Granddad as well”. Lyle added.
Sandy Lyle first competed at Carnoustie in The Open in 1999 when Paul Lawrie became the first Scot to win the Claret Jug since Lyle in 1985. “It was just a tough, tough week” said Lyle reflecting on 1999.
Asked about his thoughts on Carnoustie, he said: “You’ve got to play well at Carnoustie and you’ve got to be smart as well.
“When you get to the middle of the round there are some opportunities coming your way. But you know you have to hold on to those because those finishing holes can be an absolute nightmare.”
Royal St George’s 1985
In the six years prior to 1985, Lyle finished in the top 20 five times but insisted he didn’t go into that week with any expectations of winning after he missed cut at the previous event.
On a difficult final round at Royal St George’s, Lyle admitted that he “just kept surviving”. Birdies on 14 and 15 were instrumental in his success. “The crowd were very supportive. When I made that putt at 15, it was so loud”.
Despite a bogey at 18, Sandy Lyle became the first British player to win The Open since Tony Jacklin in 1969. But he admitted that he couldn’t enjoy the immediate aftermath after finishing his round: “You can’t get too excited because you think to yourself you could be in a playoff situation. I thought, maybe, I’d possibly lose out by a shot.”
When asked about how it feels to be an Open Champion Lyle said: “It’s something you live with until your dying days. You will always be known as Champion Golfer. That’s something that keeps your spirits high.”
Be part of Sandy Lyle’s memorable last week at The 147th Open in July and witness current Champion Golfer, Jordan Spieth, attempt to defend the Claret Jug he won so dramatically at Royal Birkdale.