Masters: ‘Lyle played greatest fairway bunker shot’

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SANDY Lyle’s 7-iron recovery from a bunker to set up a first British victory in the Masters has been hailed as one of golf’s greatest shots as the Scot prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of that triumph.

The majestic blow, which set up a Green Jacket-winning birdie at Augusta, has become part of Masters folklore and, at the start of a milestone week for Lyle, its praises have been sung by American Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul Azinger.

“My good friend, Mark Calcavecchia, finished second that year and I was really pulling for ‘Calc’,” recalled Azinger, an analyst for ESPN’s US coverage of this season’s first major, which starts on Thursday. “When he got up and down at the 18th, I honestly thought my man was going to win it.

“But then Sandy produced what, in my book, is probably the greatest fairway bunker shot ever. I, for one, didn’t have the skill level at that time to hit a shot like that. There was no chance I could have got the ball on the green to set up the chance for a winning putt.”

Lyle closed with a 71 for a seven-under-par total of 281, winning by one from Calcavecchia to become only the third European after Seve Ballesteros (1983) and Bernhard Langer (1985) to be crowned champion. “I played a lot of golf with Sandy so I knew what he was capable of,” added Azinger, who led the US to victory in the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla.

“He had it all but, just like Seve Ballesteros when he went to Mac O’Grady, Sandy disappeared after he decided to make changes to his game.”

Tiger Woods, Azinger’s tip for this years event, has made more changes than almost any other player but, with three wins already this season, he’s regained the world No 1 spot.