THE one he hit from a fairway bunker in 1988 was majestic and set up the birdie for him to become Masters champion.
In Sandy Lyle’s own words, he “skanked” a 7-iron this time to the 18th, but the result was the same.
And, though it’s unlikely we’ll see him in a second Green Jacket, he’ll settle for his place in the final two rounds.
While he was left having to sweat, especially after Bubba Watson’s birdie burst killed off his hopes of making it under the ten-shot rule, Lyle’s second-round 72 for a four-over total of 148 was just good enough to be here for the weekend.
That birdie at the last was the deciding factor, though Lyle’s own description hardly made it sound like a thing of beauty. “I kind of skanked my 7-iron a little bit,” he declared. “I didn’t get a full whack on it but luckily it landed on the front of the green, which was the ideal spot to kill the pace.
“It went past the hole and then rolled back down to about three feet. It wasn’t one of my best 7-irons, and certainly not my best on that particular hole, but I’ll take a skanky shot like that as long as it’s straight.”
No longer using his Black Swan putter – it was a cross between a branding iron and a spaceship – Lyle has been struggling on the greens, notably in a recent Champions Tour event in California.
“If you had watched me putting at Newport Beach a few weeks ago you’d think I’d never even seen a putter before,” he said.
“I had 38 putts and was missing from four feet. But coming out here I have made those putts for par and that’s the kind of thing that helps momentum.
“My game is in reasonable shape despite not having a lot of tournaments so far this year [only two], but I’m battling to make the cut and it is always a battle here.”
While here for himself, Lyle is delighted to see his younger compatriot, Stephen Gallacher, make the cut on his debut and praised the double Dubai Desert Classic champion for listening to his advice in their practice round together last weekend.
“I said to him when we played just make sure don’t blow yourself out of the tournament in the first five or six holes. That’s the most critical time because it sets the tone for the rest of the day,” revealed the 56-year-old. “You just don’t know how you’re going to perform when the bell goes. But I was pleased that he was willing to listen and he was keen to learn, asking lots of questions. Hopefully that is going to save him a few shots out there.”