Known for his cool temperament and placid exterior, Sandy Lyle was one of the world’s leading golfers during the 1980s, claiming the Claret Jug as British Open champion and achieving a stunning victory at the 1988 US Masters.
Sandy’s golfing career started at the age of three, when he received his first set of miniature golf clubs. He made his amateur debut in the Open Championship at 16 and went on to win the Brabazon Trophy in 1975 and 1977.
Sandy turned professional, representing Scotland, and his first professional win came at the Nigerian Open before he took the first of 18 European Tour titles at the Scandinavian Enterprise Open in 1978.
Between 1979 and 1984, he racked up another nine wins, including the European Open. His first major, the 1985 Open Championship at Royal St George’s, cemented his reputation as a player of the very highest calibre and gave Scottish golf fans the success they had been waiting for – no Scot had won one golf’s celebrated “Majors” since Willie Macfarlane in 1925.
For most fans, the defining moment of Sandy’s outstanding career came in 1988 at the Masters Tournament in Augusta. A close-fought final round reached a knuckle-biting finale at the 18th, where Sandy needed a birdie to win.
At the time, no player had won the Masters with a birdie on the 72nd hole since the legendary Arnold Palmer in 1970. And when his tee shot found a bunker, it seemed unlikely Lyle would able to match that achievement.
An extraordinary seven-iron shot, however, left him just feet from the pin. With the whole golfing world watching, he holed the putt to become the first British player to take home the coveted green jacket. In a career full of highlights, that birdie at the Masters created the most memorable of his 30 professional wins.
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