• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Former major winner will remain the forgotten man

As a member of golf's Big Five, a quintet that was at the forefront of a European crusade on the global stage, it still rankles many, including the man himself, that Sandy Lyle has never slipped on the captain's armband and led the continent into battle in the Ryder Cup.

Spot the skippers . . . Five members of Tony Jacklin's victorous Ryder Cup team of 1985, went on to captain the side. Sandy Lyle, standing, sixth from left, was not one of them. Picture: Getty Images
Spot the skippers . . . Five members of Tony Jacklin's victorous Ryder Cup team of 1985, went on to captain the side. Sandy Lyle, standing, sixth from left, was not one of them. Picture: Getty Images

While his decorated contemporaries Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo and the late Seve Ballesteros all assumed the captain's role, Lyle, the former Masters and Open champion, has remained the forgotten man.

It was something of a surprise, therefore, when Thomas Bjorn, the chairman of the European Tour's tournament committee, revealed during this week's captaincy unveiling that Lyle was one of five names discussed for the post at Gleneagles in 2014 before the job was finally entrusted to Irishman Paul McGinley.

Another Scottish name in the hat was Paul Lawrie. The 1999 Open champion, who returned to the Ryder Cup fray last season after an absence of 13 years, remains determined to be involved as a player again on home soil in 2014 but will likely be in the running for the captaincy in the future. For 54-year-old Lyle, however, it would appear that the ship has sailed.

"Maybe it's his last chance and it seems like he is going to be the best player not to have it," admitted Lawrie, ahead of the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Lawrie let it be known only last week that he was interested in the job for Gleneagles. When first approached officially at the tail end of last season, during the Dubai World Championship, to see whether he wanted to be considered, the 44-year-old replied with a firm 'no'. The situation changed during last week's Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa, however.

"I was on the putting green and Thomas [Bjorn] asked me 'are you sure you don't want to be considered?' and I said I would. To be honest, there's no harm. I'd been thinking about it and who would say no to that. I don't think anyone would.

"I think it might have been against me that I am still a current player, 29th in the world, and had I been on the committee I would have been thinking 'oh, well, I'm not sure he is a captain yet'. Absolutely I would want to be captain in future years. Who wouldn't want to be captain?

"I wasn't expecting it [this time], but if they felt I was the guy to do it I would have done it. I'd love to be in the team, but the captain's the big job, especially at Gleneagles. I think they've gone with the right guy. McGinley has served his time. It's fantastic what it means to him."

McGinley has stated that he wants a distinct "Scottish theme" to proceedings when the bandwagon rumbles into Perthshire and, should Lawrie fail in his quest to qualify as a player, it would be no surprise to see him acting as a vice-captain.

"It's in Scotland and it would make sense to have a couple of guys beside him that are Scottish," added Lawrie.

McGinley himself will mark his first full day as Ryder Cup skipper by teeing off in Abu Dhabi in a field headlined by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the top two players on the world rankings.

Messages of support and congratulations have flooded in from around the globe with the game's leading players continuing to deliver their words of praise. Graeme McDowell, the match-winner in the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, expressed his sentiments in a message that said: "thoughtful, articulate, prepared, motivated, fair and respected."

So prepared, in fact, that McGinley had even thought about how best to react if he had been informed he had not been appointed.

"I had notes in my pocket about what I was going to do," said the man whose 10-foot putt at The Belfry won the 2002 contest and who has never lost in nine Ryder Cup or Seve Trophy matches as a player, vice-captain or captain.

"I assured George and Richard [European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and Ryder Cup director Richard Hills] that I would act with integrity expected by the tour.

"If it wasn't going to be, despite the players' support, I would wish the winner the best of luck and leave it at that knowing that it was probably my last opportunity."

Two weeks after the "Miracle of Medinah", when Europe came from 10-4 down to keep the cup, one newspaper reported that Darren Clarke had won the race to take over from Jose Maria Olazabal. McGinley did not despair. "I was surprised, but I knew it wasn't true," he said.

Now, he's finally living the dream.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

135701