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Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 10:28 UK

Lyle abandons Open after 10 holes

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Lyle said he would watch the rest of the tournament on television

Former champion Sandy Lyle quit this year's Open after just 10 holes as the wind and heavy rain at Royal Birkdale took its toll.

The 50-year-old was 11 over par when he walked off the course.

"It's probably my shortest Open ever. I got off to a pretty miserable start," the 1985 Open champion told BBC Sport.

"I've played in heavier rain but the course is so demanding and the rough is so heavy in the wet that if you get out of position it's just so hard."

Lyle, playing in his 33rd Open, had dropped seven shots in three holes to reach the turn in 45.

He managed a par on the 10th before deciding to call it quits.

I couldn't really hit the ball and it was total meltdown to be honest

Sandy Lyle

"Around the third or fourth I hit a couple of shots which rattled my fingers and (they) went a little numb," added the former Masters champion.

"I just couldn't score and I couldn't swing the golf club in the end. I just thought I was doing myself more harm than good."

Later in the day, 2002 USPGA champion Rich Beem also walked off after finishing the front nine 12 over par.

The two withdrawals left R&A chief executive Peter Dawson unhappy.

"It is disappointing," he said. "I have to say professional golfers should complete a round. That is what they are paid to do.

"You wonder what they would think if the recorders went home at lunchtime saying there were having a bad day. None has yet."

However, Dawson softened his stance on Saturday after having spoken to Lyle and received a letter from him.

Dawson told the BBC: "I had a letter from Sandy and we spoke on the phone this morning.

"He does have some problem with his fingers. "I think he regrets walking off and I regret one or two remarks we made but I think it's a closed issue."

Lyle abandoned the same course at the 1991 Open when he hit his ball out of bounds on the 18th hole of his second round.

"It is not very nice when you are only an hour and a half, two hours into the Open and you have basically chucked it," he said at the time.

"I don't make a habit of it. I did it in 1991 when I didn't realise I was out of bounds until I got down there but I was way over the cut line and so I said I wasn't going back for the sake of finishing the hole.

"This is the only course I have walked off twice, which is not good."

I just don't think it's acceptable to walk in

Former pro Mark Roe

Lyle's actions caused controversy on day one of the Open, with BBC Radio 5 Live golf correspondent Iain Carter claiming it could affect the Scot's hopes of becoming Ryder Cup captain in the future.

"It's not the example he wants to be setting," said Carter.

Former European Tour player Mark Roe said it was "unacceptable" not to finish the round.

"It's better to finish no matter what the score, especially when you're a former Open champion," said BBC 5 Live summariser Roe.

"I just don't think it's acceptable to walk in. What I don't understand is... he could have turned it around.

"He could have gone round the back nine in level par and finished in 81 or 82 and that wouldn't have played him out of the championship with the conditions as they are.

"Lyle is capable of a good round tomorrow. I don't understand it. It doesn't sit well with me."

However, American Jay Townsend argued that Lyle had earned the right to walk off the course "on the merit of his play in the past".

"Obviously he was struggling and felt it was too difficult for him to continue," said Townsend.

"It's difficult for the younger guys (in the conditions) and Sandy's now in the over-50 group.

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"I don't think it has any bearing at all on the Ryder Cup captaincy."

Lyle's troubles started on the fourth hole where he hit his tee shot into an unplayable lie, took a penalty drop and made a good bogey five.

Three successive bogeys followed and things went from bad to worse at the eighth when his third shot bounced on top of playing partner Graeme Storm's ball and ricocheted 30 yards through the green.

"For the first few holes I wasn't too bad and then the rain came and got my timing and I got out of position and I couldn't make a golf swing," he said.

"I was all over the place. I lost momentum, I couldn't really hit the ball hardly at all and it was total meltdown to be honest."


see also
Live text - Open day one
17 Jul 08 |  Golf
Birkdale's Open history
14 Jul 08 |  Golf


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