Scotland’s Sandy Lyle insists he won’t get emotional when he takes his final bow at the scene of his greatest triumph when he plays his final Masters at Augusta National starting on Thursday.
The 65-year-old, who enjoyed a famous victory in 1988, is retiring from the Champions Tour and has also said this will be the last time he takes advantage of his lifetime qualification for the Masters.
“It’s not a hard decision. I’m not going to get that emotional about it,” Lyle said on Wednesday after taking part in the traditional Par-3 Contest.
“It will be probably the last hole or so thinking, ‘Thank God I don’t have to go out here (more).’ This is a beast of a golf course and the young ones hit it so much further than me.”
Lyle produced one of the most memorable final-hole shots in Masters history when he took a 7-iron from a fairway bunker 145 yards from the hole.
The Scot’s superb shot left him with a tricky downhill putt for a birdie that he coolly made to beat Americans Mark Calcavecchia and Ben Crenshaw to win the green jacket.
The sand trap is now known as “Sandy’s Bunker” but despite the power of those memories and the pull of the tournament, Lyle says he has simple had to give in to the inevitable.
“It’s just age catches you up,” he said. “Club head speed lowers down without you even trying sometimes, and then the course is getting longer and I’m getting shorter. Not a good combination. The young ones are so good these days that I can’t really compete against that.”
Lyle attended the Champions Dinner at Augusta on Tuesday night, the annual get-together of the past Masters winners, but said he kept his emotions in check during the occasion.
But he noted that 1987 winner and Augusta native Larry Mize found the last supper as a competitor more difficult to cope with.
“I was OK. The one guy I thought was going to be even brilliant was going to be Larry Mize because he’s used to speaking to people, a man of the church,” Lyle said of the 64-year-old local hero who beat Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman in a sudden-death playoff.
“He’s done lots of readings and I thought he’ll have no problem at all, and he clammed up like a clam shell. He just stood up there and had a glass of water and another glass of water and we all (whistled), but obviously we’ve all got feelings.
“He’s tough enough to win a Masters, but when it comes to that kind of emotional thing, we’ve all got feelings.
“He’s going to be very emotional going down the last two holes I’m sure. I will be, as well, but I maybe don’t show it as much as he does.”