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Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 16:43 UK

Monty unhappy with Lyle apology

The 138th Open, Turnberry
Date: 16-19 July
Coverage: Live TV coverage on BBC Two, Online and the Red Button, live on Radio 5 Live and text commentary online on all four days


I'm not at war with Monty - Lyle

Sandy Lyle has said sorry to Colin Montgomerie after accusing him of cheating, but the Ryder Cup captain has dismissed the apology as "strange".

Lyle, in a newspaper interview, brought up a controversial 2005 incident involving his fellow Scot before apologising on Tuesday.

"It's a rather strange apology to be honest," said Montgomerie.

"I'm just trying to compete in the Open and my preparations have been dented. I'm not very happy about that at all."

Montgomerie, who beat Lyle to the position of Europe's Ryder Cup captain for the 2010 event at Celtic Manor, was far from impressed with Lyle's comments.

"It's nothing much to do with me at all - it's all Sandy," he added.

"I've read it and I'm digesting it and I'll let you know when I've digested it further. I've nothing much to say."

And George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, issued a statement on Wednesday that read: "The Tour fully understands Sandy Lyle's disappointment at not being elected captain but deeply regrets his comments which are considered wholly inappropriate and ill-timed."

The controversy blew up when Lyle, asked if his own decision to walk off after 10 holes of last year's Open had cost him the Ryder Cup captaincy, brought up an incident at the 2005 Indonesian Open when Montgomerie appeared to take an incorrect drop in a bunker after a rain delay.

"Monty dropped the ball badly and that is a form of cheating," said Lyle, who also claimed he had been snubbed by an "aloof" Montgomerie over a possible assistant's role at Celtic Manor.

"What he did was far worse (than Lyle walking off after 10 holes of the 2008 Open)."


Montgomerie was cleared of any wrongdoing by rules officials at the time, but issued an apology for his "unwitting error" and donated his £24,000 prize money to charity.

After the issue quickly hit the headlines, Lyle called a news conference in which he read out a statement apologising to his former Ryder Cup team-mate.

"I want to be clear that I regret bringing up the 2005 incident," said Lyle.

"Colin and I are not at war - he's a great champion and a good friend."

Lyle insisted he had merely intended to use the incident as a comparison with his own situation.

Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie with the Ryder Cup in 2006
Lyle and Montgomerie share a happier day at the 2006 Ryder Cup

"In my frustration at continually being asked about the incident at last year's Open, I regrettably brought up another old incident, one that happened four years ago and has long since been resolved," he stated.

"I was trying to make the point by comparison that neither of these incidents had anything to do with the selection of the current Ryder Cup captain.

"I deeply regret making this comparison and apologise to Colin for involving him in what was my own issue."

Nevertheless, Lyle did not entirely retract his comments, insisting the incident in Jakarta would follow Montgomerie "for the rest of his life".

"I didn't prefabricate a thing. I'm only going on what other people have said, and it was a pretty poor drop. It was one of his mistakes," he said.

"It will probably live with him for the rest of his life. It'll be cropping up. I can't do anything again that."

I sincerely hope that nothing more will be made of this issue

Sandy Lyle

Lyle was widely criticised at the time for quitting last year's Open mid-round.

"It has now been fairly well documented that my withdrawal from last year's Open was, in fact, down to injury. My real mistake was not explaining this when I retired," he added.

"It's my belief that last year's incident had nothing to do with the selection of the current Ryder Cup captain. I sincerely hope that nothing more will be made of this issue."

With the controversy blowing up on the eve of the Open at Turnberry, Lyle said he hoped that it would not affect Montgomerie's chances.

"I had never thought about jeopardising his chances of the build-up to the Open - I hope our friendship is still there," he said.

"I was obviously very upset this morning when I found out. I'm here to try to clear things up and hopefully it will all be laid to rest."

And speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher criticised Lyle for referring to the incident.

"The tournament committee and the tournament director have drawn a line under it, and it's wrong that Sandy has not drawn a line under this as well," he said.

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see also
Lyle upset by Cup captaincy snub
07 Jul 09 |  Golf
Torrance talks up Monty's chances
15 Jul 09 |  Golf
Woods and Westwood paired at Open
13 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Open round four tee-off times
18 Jul 09 |  Golf
Turnberry gallery
14 Jul 09 |  Golf
Memories of Turnberry
13 Jul 09 |  Golf
Lyle abandons Open after 10 holes
17 Jul 08 |  Golf
Monty maintains innocence in saga
01 Jun 05 |  Golf
Tour aims to end Montgomerie row
26 May 05 |  Golf

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