Sandy Lyle

Sandy Lyle at the 1988 Masters, which he won with a great bunker shot and birdie putt on the final hole.
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Sandy Lyle was one of the top golfers in the game from the late 1970s through the late 1980s, who helped expand the importance of European golf in the global golf landscape.

Date of birth: Feb. 9, 1958
Place of birth: Shrewsbury, England
Nickname: Sandy is the nickname; Lyle's full name is Alexander Walter Barr Lyle.

Tour Victories:

  • PGA Tour: 6
  • European Tour: 18

(29 professional victories worldwide)

Major Championships:

Professional: 2

  • Masters: 1988
  • British Open: 1985

Awards and Honors:

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • European Tour Player of the Year, 1979, 1985
  • European Tour scoring leader, 1979, 1980, 1985
  • Member, European Ryder Cup team, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987
  • Member, Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, 1975, 1977
  • Named Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987

Quote, Unquote:

  • Seve Ballesteros on Lyle's prowess during his peak years: "Sandy was the greatest God-given talent in history. If everyone in the world was playing their best, Sandy would win and I'd come second."
  • Sandy Lyle, on his late father's influence: "Even yet, every time I pick up a club I can hear his voice in my ear repeating the mantra, 'Tempo not temper'."


  • Sandy Lyle was Jack Nicklaus' playing partner in the final round of the 1986 Masters, a first-hand witness to Nicklaus' famous charge to his sixth and final Masters victory.

Sandy Lyle Biography

Sandy Lyle's parents were Scottish, but they moved to England in the early 1950s so Lyle's father could become the golf professional at Hawkstone Park Golf Club in Shrewsbury. While Lyle was born in and grew up in England, he always represented Scotland as a golfer, from the junior ranks on, and moved to Scotland as an adult. Which is why Lyle is always referred to as a Scotsman.

With a golf pro for a father, Lyle quickly took up the game, and quickly progressed. He was a top amateur by his mid-teens, and from ages 17-19 won the English Amateur Stroke Play twice, the English Boys Amateur Stroke Play once, and the British Youths' Amateur Open once.

Lyle turned pro in 1977, won the 1977 European Tour Q-School, and then earned Rookie of the Year honors on the European Tour in 1978. Although he failed to win on the Euro Tour that year, Lyle's first professional victory did come at the 1978 Nigerian Open.

The year 1979 was Lyle's breakout season. His first Euro Tour victory happened at the B.A./Avis Open and he won twice more; he led the tour in both money and scoring average.

And from 1979-1988, Lyle was one of the top players in the game, on both sides of the Atlantic. He won the 1985 British Open, becoming the first Briton to win that title since 1969; he became the first European golfer to win the PGA Tour's Players Championship in 1987; and when he won the 1988 Masters he was the first British golfer to win that major.

At Augusta National that year, Lyle played a 7-iron from the fairway bunker on the last hole to about 12 feet above the hole, then sank the birdie putt to win the Green Jacket.

Along the way, Lyle won another money title and two more scoring titles in Europe; and also won multiple events on the USPGA. Lyle's best season was probably 1988, when he was arguably the best player in the game with victories at the Phoenix Open and Greater Greensboro Open in America, and the World Match Play Championship in England, in addition to the Masters title.

Lyle also was a major player in the revitalization of the Ryder Cup. When Team Europe won in 1985, it was their first victory since 1957. When they won again in 1987, it was the first-ever European Ryder Cup win on U.S. soil.

But although Lyle was only 31 years old by 1989, his game began to tumble that year, and he didn't even earn a place on the 1989 Ryder Cup team. He won a handful more tournaments in Europe, but never again approached his former level. In fact, after his final European Tour victory at the 1992 Volvo Masters, Lyle didn't win again, anywhere, until a European Senior Tour triumph in 2011.

Still, Lyle's legacy was intact. He was one of Europe's "Big Five" - along with Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam - who revitalized and expanded European golf in the 1980s, and rejuvenated the Ryder Cup with wins in 1985 and 1987.

Lyle was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.