May 11 2012 by Gordon Bannerman
TWO-time Major winner Sandy Lyle was inducted into Florida’s World Golf Hall of Fame along with US star Phil Mickelson on Monday.
The treasured green jacket from his 1988 US Masters triumph – he was the first Brit to triumph at Augusta – went on display for 24 hours after the gala dinner but the Scot has also donated a range of quirky items for permanent exhibition in St Augustine.
The Balquhidder resident admitted that it was a nostalgic and emotional evening in the company of fellow inductee Mickelson, commentator Peter Allis and other golfing greats from both sides of the pond.
“I regard this as a great honour and it is wonderful to be voted into the Hall of Fame after an international ballot,” said Lyle.
“I heard about this before Christmas when I got a call from George O’Grady, who heads up the European Tour. When he phoned personally I wondered what I had done wrong.”
Lyle admits the Masters win, famously secured by a final-hole birdie set up by a stunning seven iron shot from a fairway bunker, will stand as his crowning glory.
He said: “Your first Major is always memorable but I led from day one at the Masters and managed to keep the momentum going, despite some late tee times every day – and it gets drier and even trickier as the day goes on in Georgia.
“I had made a hash of Amen Corner on the last day but got an unexpected birdie at the 16th before making birdie on the 18th.
“That moment was a big turning point in my life, off the golf course as much as on it.
“That bunker shot was a real gut-churner but it came out beautifully and I have gone on to reap the rewards.”
Lyle returns to the hallowed course along with fellow past winners each year and admits his enduring competitive streak means missing recent cuts has been hard to take.
“It is always a fantastic occasion,” he said, “attending the dinner with past champions and taking along friends and relatives to savour a Masters tournament.
“But I do get annoyed with myself posting rounds in the 80s because of some bad decision-making. I still believe I am capable of making the cut, even now that I am in my mid-50s, and Augusta will always have a very special place in my heart.”
The induction saw a replica locker created for Lyle and he explained: “My seven iron and green jacket will be featured along with items with a personal touch like my kilt, Claret Jug, Open Championship belt and the 1985 European Ryder Cup bag.
“Gary Player’s locker includes a banana because that was always in his bag. I am putting in a wee digger made from Lego because I remember whiling away time at the Open with the kids’ toy building set.
“I’ll also put in a can of WD40 and an apron. I like pottering around with DIY around the house in Balquhidder.”