Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher lead tributes to Matt Lygate

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Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher have led tributes to former Scottish international, national selector and men’s team capatain Matt Lygate.

The Ayrshire legend passed away in his sleep earlier this week, just days after he’d attended the Ayrshire County Dinner at Prestwick St Cuthbert Golf Club.

“I will always remember Matt Lygate with great fondness,” said Montgomerie. “As a Troon man, to play under him in my first Home Internationals for Scotland at Royal Troon in 1984 was a great thrill.

“Matt did immense voluntary work to promote Scottish amateur golf and will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with Matt’s family and Mary, his wife, at this difficult time.”

Gallacher also played in teams captained by Lygate and was part of a squad he led to San Roque in Spain for some winter coaching.

He said: “I was sad to hear of Matt’s passing. He was a great man and very friendly with Bob Torrance, my coach.

“Matt was a good golfer himself and was always on hand to help the youngsters out. He liked a laugh as well.”

Lygate carved out his playing career as a Troon Portland member, winning the Ayrshire Strokeplay Championship in 1967, the Doc Thom Order Of Merit in 1974 and the Ayrshire Seniors Championship in 1997 and 1998.

He played for Scotland from 1970 to 1975, including a European Team Championship appearance at Lausanne in Switzerland in 1971, when his team-mates included lifelong friend and former R&A captain George Macgregor and Hugh Stuart.

His best effort in the Scottish Amateur Championship came in 1975 at Montrose, where he claimed a bronze medal. In the Amateur Championship that year, he lost to a up-and-coming player called Sandy Lyle in the fourth round.

Lygate served as president of Ayrshire Golf Association from 1975 to 1977. He was also the Ayrshire representative on the Scottish Golf Union Council for many years, during which time he served as an international selector and men’s team captain.

In recognition of his services to Ayrshire Golf Association, and the wider golfing community, he was elected as only the second honorary life president after stepping down from his position with the SGU.

Alan Tait also paid tribute to Lygate, having mentioned him in his speech at the Ayrshire County Dinner last Friday night.

“I feel very lucky to have seen him on Friday for first time in about 20 years. He was in great form as well. Very sad,” he said.

Former Scottish Boys’ champion Alan Reid added: “Matt did a massive amount for Ayrshire and Scottish golf back in the 80s and 90s. He also helped me get the opportunity to work with Bob Torrance, enough said. Thank you Matt.”