Sandy Lyle Relives the Past With 92 Volvo

By George WhiteNovember 5, 2002, 5:00 pm
Sandy Lyle in the latter part of the 80s was one of the best players in golf. In 1988 he certainly was the BEST player ' period ' but the world rankings system still was working on a two-year rotation and at the end of the year Lyle was ranked third, behind Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros.
In 1988, Lyle won the Masters. He also won at Phoenix and Greensboro on the PGA Tour, and on the European Tour he won the British Masters and completed the year by winning the World Match-Play Championship.
Norman and Ballesteros certainly had good years. Norman won the Heritage Classic in America, four tournaments in Australia, and the Italian Open in Europe. Ballesteros won the Westchester Classic in the U.S., the British Open, and the Mallorca Open, the Scandinavian Open and the German Open. Both men were impressive, but their years were not like Lyles year.
Who would win a hypothetical tournament where all the great players of 88 were entered? It is obvious, said Ballesteros. Sandy would win, and I would come in second.
Then the golfing world of Sandy Lyle collapsed. In 1989, he lost it. The hardest thing to do is go out and not play with the swing you were born with, Lyle said. It was like being caught up in a landslide. It got so bad that at the end of the year, in an unprecedented move, Lyle graciously gave up his position on the European Ryder Cup team.
In 1992, an exasperated Lyle finally went to English instructor Dennis Pugh, after he had made the rounds of all the other notable instructors ' David Leadbetter, Jimmy Ballard, Simon Holmes, Bob Torrance. Coincidence or not, in three weeks he had won again ' at the season-ending 92 Volvo Masters. It might have been pure coincidence because Lyle would never win again. But for one glorious week, Lyle had the satisfaction of knowing what winning a major tournament felt like.
Lyle was about to hook up in a memorable battle with 29-year-old Colin Montgomerie, who was to go on to win seven straight money championships on the European Tour beginning in 1993. Only 54 men, the elite of the European Tour, were eligible to start. They were competing on a difficult course, Valderrama, on Spains Costa del Sol, in typical European weather.
Lyle had led the tournament after 54 holes, but he lost the lead on the 14th hole via a three-putt bogey. But he turned right around on the 15th, a long par-3, when he covered the 225 yards with a 3-iron to 16 feet. He then sank the putt for birdie to tie Montgomerie.
At the par-5 17th, Lyle appeared to be hopelessly out of the hole when he badly shanked a 9-iron approach. But the ball careened into a tree that was out of bounds and bounced back into light rough. Lyle got it up-and-down for par, parred the 18th, and it was off to the playoff.
Montgomerie, as it developed, wouldnt be so lucky in the trees. On the first playoff hole, Lyle nailed a perfect drive. Montgomerie, tying to fade the ball in a left-to-right wind, hit a tree 60 yards out and the ball dropped straight down.
Montgomeries second was a 3-iron which missed the fairway, then he poled a 3-wood which came up just off the green. Lyle had played the hole perfectly, putting his second shot on the green in two.
Montgomerie, lying three, had to chip for par. He very nearly made it, but it stayed out for a five. Lyle was able to two-putt for his par and the victory.
Lyle is 45 now, and where his talent has gone is the most mysterious story in golf. Only recently did he show some signs of life. At mid-season he made four out of five cuts in Europe, finishing in a tie for sixth at the English Open. But he has missed the cut in his last three tournaments, provoking new fears that his golfing career is again on the decline.
However, there is still the wonderous year of 1992, and one wonderful tournament ' the 92 Volvo Masters. Lyle will always remember.

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”