Masters 2023: Sandy Lyle set to be sole Scot teeing up in Augusta
Bob MacIntyre, who had joined Lyle for the first time at Augusta National in 2021, when he tied for 12th on a brilliant debut, then again last year, will not be teeing up in the season’s opening major on this occasion.
The Oban man needed to get back inside the world’s top 50 before the final cut-off on Monday, 3 April, but his race in that respect is now run after missing out on a spot in next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin.
That meant it was down to PGA Tour pair Russell Knox and Martin Laird to try and bolster the Caledonian contingent in Georgia, but they are also now starting to run out of opportunities.
On the back of disappointing early exits in The Players Championship, Knox opened with a six-over 77 in the Valspar Championship in Florida while Laird could only manage a 79.
Unless the second round brings a spectacular turnaround, another missed cut is looming for the duo and even one last throw of the dice is probably not going to get either of them to Augusta National.
In 2013, Laird won the Valero Texas Open by two shots from Rory McIlroy to secure the final spot in The Masters the following week, but that is no longer a direct route into the major.
The Scot jumped from 117th to 56th on that occasion, which, under the updated exemption criteria, wouldn’t be enough to clinch a coveted berth late on and, a decade later, he sits 203rd in the world rankings.
Knox is a spot above his compatriot and, even if he was also playing in next week’s Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic and did well in that, his odds of making a third Masters appearance and first since 2017 would still be slim.
Lyle, the 1988 winner, will be making his 42nd appearance at Augusta National, having created history in last year’s event as he became the first Scottish player to tee up in 100 majors.
In the last 20 years, the two-time major winner has been the sole Scot at The Masters on six occasions, having done so three years in a row from 2008-2010 then again from 2018-2020.
In that time, he’s never been joined by more than two of his compatriots, with Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher being the only other professionals to have accompanied him in addition to Knox, Laird and MacIntyre while Stuart Wilson, Richie Ramsay and Bradley Neil all played as amateurs.
It will certainly be hurting MacIntyre to be an absentee on this occasion after giving a good account of himself over the past two years, but, looking a bit further ahead, he is already exempt for The Open at Royal Liverpool in July along with Ferguson, Ramsay, Connor Syme and 1999 winner Paul Lawrie.
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