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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Lyle makes sad Tour exit
Sandy Lyle
Lyle was the first Briton to win the US Masters in 1988
Sandy Lyle has lost his European Tour card, ending a 25-year spell as one of the most familiar faces on the circuit.

The Scot needed a top-nine finish in the Madrid Open to retain his place in Europe's top 40 all-time career money list but he pulled out through illness.

"I was fighting a losing battle and it was best to call it a day and retire gracefully," said Lyle.

"You think you can do it, but my muscles began aching. I started mis-timing it and it's just not there."

The 45-year-old three-time European Tour winner has also slipped outside the top 115 players who earn their card automatically.

Ranked 144th in Europe, Lyle notched up his last victory on the Tour 11 years ago - his best finish this season was 18th spot at the Diageo Championship.

But many of his peers believe that as a former Open and US Masters champion his place on the European Tour should be judged on achievement rather than his bank balance.

Seve Ballesteros and Padraig Harrington this week both called for the rule to be changed.

When Lyle topped the money list in 1979 his prize money totalled 40,000 - a sum that does not compare to modern day standards where 25 players have already earned 500,000 or more this season alone.

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