The 150th Open Championship: Sandy Lyle recounts 1985 win at Royal St George’s
Sandy Lyle has only won the Open once, but his victory in 1985 was of great significance to British golf.
It’s been 16 years since Tony Jacqueline’s 1969 victory over Royal Latham and St. Anne’s, and the Americans in control – Tom Watson has won 5 of 9 games, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino have won twice – fans are desperate to win at home.
Based on the 150 open in St Andrews in July, this week’s podcast successfully focuses on the UK and Ireland, starting with Jacqueline and continuing with Lyle, who runs a run in Royal St. George to help him relax with a final cup of tea.
Lyle, who was at Lytham as a child, “smelled champions” when he saw Jacqueline win.
“I was impressed to see the British champions, to see the British Open championship not controlled by the United States,” he added. It was the weekend when the Scot set out on a journey that would make him Britain’s next winner of the last golf tournament.
However, the Scot admitted he did not “expect” to win in 1985.
“I was in Dublin a week earlier and retired with 90 in tough conditions in the first round, so it cannot be said that it was the best start to the Open Championship,” he said.
Lyle started the last third lap up front
“I was in a big tournament with Christy O’Connor Jr., and you can probably play as much as you want.
On the 15th, Lyle shot another 20-yard birdie that gave him a one-ball advantage and remained in 18th place.
He said he had a “reasonable” advantage but missed the second shot and found the Greens challenging. He then “inflated” his needle and the ball failed to climb the slope in front of him and jump to his feet.
“Once I hit that chip, the scoreboard started to change. If it had changed 10 seconds ago, I might have been more aggressive because I knew I was going to shoot two now because Bernard Lang is 16, it would make Boogie.”
Lyle scored twice from the green, but said he was “a little tired because I thought it might have been a missed opportunity to win back-to-back.”
He then waited anxiously for the scoreboard for 35 minutes before Langer managed to finish the game and reach eye level.
Lyle’s victory led to a small streak at home, with Englishman Nick Faldo winning three titles in six years since 1987.
Scottish Paul Lawrie was an unlikely winner in 1999 before Padraig Harrington Ireland went on to win back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008.
After 20 years, Darren Clark won in 2011, while Northern Irishman Rory McLeroy claimed in 2014 that he was the only brown pitcher ever.
When the opener returns to Royal Portrush on the coast of Northern Ireland, surely no one will forget what Shane Lowry felt to gain in 2019. You can hear Lori on the podcast.