Sandy Lyle: A trip down Magnolia Lane

2016 03 Lyle1
SANDY LYLE

It was very dramatic, not very nice for me at the time, but for people watching it must have been very nail-biting.


I can remember all of it; sweaty armpits, all of it. It was nail-biting. The last nine holes going in with a two-shot lead - it should be about being in control.

I thought if I could get through Amen Corner in par I would feel a lot better, because there were two par-5s coming up that I thought I could reach in two. But I couldn’t just write the script. I took bogey at 11 because of a three-putt, though having mud on the ball didn’t help.

Then my tee shot at 12 was hit but maybe two millimetres too low on the clubface, which allows for about two yards lost in distance control. I’d just seen (Bernhard) Langer hitting an 8-iron to the back of the green. I was very confident that the 8-iron I was hitting was plenty to get to the green.

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Sandy Lyle

The ball was flying left of the pin, which was the ideal line . . . and even if it did come up short I thought it would catch the bunker anyway. But it missed the bunker by about three feet. The ball then dug in and then started rolling five or six yards into the water. As you know, with the greens being that hard, it was almost impossible to make four, so I ended up making double-bogey. That was a knock on the chin right there, and I had to really regroup.

I didn’t birdie the par-5 hole that I was hoping to do. But, lo and behold, I made two birdies on my last three holes. My putt at 16 was a real eye opener because I had a good chance of chasing Mark Calcavecchia with two holes to go.

Then, at the 18th, I obviously wasn’t happy at being in the bunker in the first place. I almost knew in the back of my mind, the way the ball went in the bunker, that it was going to be pretty close to the face.

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US Masters Golf Tournament

I had visions of hitting a wedge or a 9 out to the right-hand side, then try and chip and putt for the play-off. The play-off was all that was in my mind. After four days of hard work and leading, to lose it to a 5 on the last hole (pauses), well, that was on my mind. I got to the ball and saw that it was lying on the lip of the bunker rather than on the flat part, so there was a good chance of getting height and distance to the green. That was a big, big bonus.

Meanwhile, (Ben) Crenshaw was butchering the hole on the left-hand side. He was taking ages to move the crowd, so I had quite a lot of time to myself to try and calm down as best I could.

I am usually quite good at long bunker shots and I was confident of picking it up clean. But it does go through your mind about hitting it too clean, or catching the lip of the bunker in front and it goes five yards.

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Lyle1

A 5 or 6 could happen very quickly, I had to be careful. Once the ball was in the air, I knew it was in the right sort of airspace. I couldn’t see the flag – the ball was just a blind spot flying through the clouds. There was very little reaction of the crowd straight away and I thought ‘That must be middle or back of the green’.

And then the noise got more and more and I realised the ball had rolled further down the green. I was a little disappointed when I got up to the green because I really thought the ball would be a foot from the hole. I thought I’d walk up, take the pin out, tap it in and let’s go!

But that wasn’t the case. I still had work to do. To this day, when I see it on TV, it looks eight feet away but, apparently, it was about 18 feet. As for the dance? It was sort of, ‘Well, do I do a somersault here?’ but the legs had gone completely.


Sandy Lyle in bunkered


This interview with Sandy Lyle first appeared in issue 81 of bunkered (published: February 2008).

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