CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - It was all Sandy Lyle could do to hold back the tears as one of the greatest Scottish golfers in history bowed out of the British Open for probably the final time on Friday.
The 60-year-old crowd favourite achieved a Carnoustie first on his swansong appearance, playing the last three treacherous holes of the fearsome seaside par-71 links in one-under-par.
“I’ve still got a wet tissue here,” the silver-haired veteran told reporters after missing the cut.
“I managed to stay away from crying but definitely have a lump in the throat. That was a great way to finish the last three holes,” added Lyle, who signed off with a 76 for 151, nine over.
It was the 1985 British Open and 1988 U.S. Masters champion who struck the first shot of the tournament early on Thursday morning and he was indebted to the R&A organisers for allowing him the honour.
“In 40-odd plus years I’ve played in the tournament, to have the pleasure of doing the opening tee shot was quite special,” said Lyle. “It shows they care and appreciate what I’ve done over the years.”
The former Ryder Cup stalwart could yet play his way into the 2019 British Open being held at Royal Portrush if he emerges triumphant at next week’s senior equivalent at St Andrews.
“If I win next week I’ll be back again,” said Lyle. “There’s always a chance I could play my way back into the tournament.
“I will try. I won’t totally give up. It seems like it’s the last Open for me. I have no regrets. I’ve had a good run.”
Editing by Ed Osmond