Super Scot Sandy Lyle was clearly taken by surprise when informed that he’s set a Masters record for the number of consecutive Augusta National appearances.
Lyle will tee-up later today (THUR) in a 37th consecutive Masters having contested every Masters since 1985. Lyle made his Masters debut as a then 22-year-old in 1980 and then returned to tee-up in 1981 and 1985 before the start of now 37 unbroken appearances and 40 overall. Of course, he became the first Brit to win a Masters green jacket with victory in 1988.
And in driving down Magnolia Lane earlier this week, he was tied with three-time Masters winner Gary Player, for the record of most Masters starts. Player chalked-up his run of 36 consecutive appearances between 1974 and his last full Masters in 2009.
And now in teeing-up at 1.12pm (Irish time) today, Lyle will write his name into Masters records with 37 appearances in succession.
He said: “It that right? People had been saying to me that this is my 38th in a row or even my 40th but I wasn’t sure. Well, there we go, it’s officially the 37th in a row. It’s good. It’s very good. I’ve managed to stay healthy at the right times in April, so that’s been good.”
And once made aware of his impending achievement, the now 63-year old Lyle wasn’t too sure what to make of the effort.
“I haven’t even been thinking about it, quite honestly,” he added. “You know, the Open Championship, I managed to play 43 years in that. Where the time has gone, I am not sure myself.
“Then with the Masters is creeping-up so quickly after the last one. The good thing is there is no Masters age restriction, so it’s up to myself if I feel that my health is good, and another three or four more years, and that will be definitely plenty enough for me.”
And while Lyle will tee-up this week having missed the cut in nine of his past 11 Masters, dating back to 2010, he still enjoys the Augusta experience despite also having played four rounds on just 16 occasions in his prior 40 showings.
“It’s never been disappointing playing here,” Lyle said. “It never has. Even though the course has sort of kicked my butt in the last sort of four or five years, I’ve missed the cut by one shot a few times and it’s a bit aggravating, but that’s the part of the course, we know it’s going to be tough the first two days, and I’ve got to try and save as much energy and as many shots as I can out there.”
And Lyle is determined to stick with his ‘braces’ as we saw him wear for the first time in last year’s rescheduled Masters.
“Well, yeah, it’s different. I didn’t really just wear it for fashion. I wore it for a purpose. I’m fed up trying to keep my shirt in my trousers half the time because I have quite a long torso, and every shirt I have it just seems to come up over the top, so this way it stays in where it should stay, so it’s comfortable to wear.
“It all started way back with my work trousers I had suspenders on, and I thought, well, all the tools I have in my work trousers, normally pull my trousers down, but with the braces I was really good, so I thought I might do it on the golf course, so there we go, it worked.”