As well as marking the 30th anniversary of him becoming the first British golfer to win The Masters, next year could also signal the end of Sandy Lyle’s Open Championship career.
Due to the fact he turns 60 in February, the 1985 winner will be exempt for the final time when the event is held at Carnoustie in July. To extend a chapter that started in 1974 at Royal Lytham and has seen Lyle tee up in the game’s oldest major 42 times, he would need to either finish in the top ten in Angus, win the Senior Open or come through qualifying.
“It’s kind of a scary thing when you go back to the boyhood dreams of playing in The Open and managing [to do that] at the age of 16 to now thinking I’m coming up to my last year, possibly,” said Lyle in an interview with Sky Sports.
“Forty-three years I’ve played in The Open. It has been a wonderful experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. [But] the time has come to make way for other guys to play.”
Lyle became the first British player to lift the Claret Jug since Tony Jacklin in 1969 when the Scot triumphed at Royal St George’s, having finished in the top 10 behind Tom Watson at Troon three years earlier. He is expecting to feel touched if next year is indeed his farewell appearance in the event.
“I actually got quite emotional when I played at The Open when it was at St Andrews when it was [Jack] Nicklaus’ last trip. I thought this is possibly the last time I’ll be walking over this bridge in the Open Championship,” he recalled. ”It does get you in the throat definitely. I’m not really an emotional person, but it does put a bit of a lump in the throat.”
In one of the final events of 2017, former Scottish Open champion Justin Rose held a two-shot lead with two holes to play when darkness halted the second round of the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta after a weather delay.
Rose, who had opened with a ten-under-par 62 at Royale Jakarta, had moved to 14-under for the tournament after Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of the 2015 Paul Lawrie Invitational at Murcar Links, shot a 64 to lead in the clubhouse on 132.
American Brandt Snedeker, who had made the long journey hoping he could secure a Masters invitation before the end of the year by climbing from 51st into the top 50 in the world, withdrew, reportedly suffering from dehydration.
Elsewhere, Aberdonian Clarke Lutton is on course to secure a good card on next season’s Alps Tour after carding rounds of 69-70 to sit joint fourth heading into the last round of the third-tier circuit’s Qualifying School final at La Cala in southern Spain.
Ewen Ferguson (70-75) and Craig Ross (70-76) are also still standing but Louis Gaughan missed the 36-hole cut despite trimming ten shots off his opening effort with a gutsy 73.
On the ladies’ front, three Scots – Vikki Laing, Laura Murray and Heather Stirling – are among 106 hopefuls setting out in the final of the LET’S Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco. The first target for the tartan trio is to be in the top 60 after 72 holes, getting them into a last-round battle on Wednesday for a total of 30 cards.