Lyle has grounds for exit to hand


SANDY LYLE insists he pulled out after only 10 holes of last week's British Open Championship because of a hand injury - not a lack of heart.

The Scot was roundly criticised by the R&A, among others, for quitting when he was 11 over par in rain and gales at Royal Birkdale.

Initially Lyle gave the distinct impression that he had chosen to walk off because he saw little point in continuing, given his score at the time.

But the 50-year-old, who will line up alongside Tom Watson and Greg Norman in the Senior Open at Royal Troon today, insisted he feared doing further damage to a long-term injury.

"It's not something I would like to do on a regular basis, but I've had sore hands and knuckles for a couple of years now," Lyle said.

"I have been playing most of this year pain-free, but in the cold weather, which you don't really expect in July around Birkdale, a couple of skanky shots didn't help at all.

"I was playing with almost numb knuckles on my left hand and I couldn't really continue. I was suffering too much from the weather, so I decided to make an executive decision to make short haste towards the clubhouse.

"I regret it a little bit, but I've spoken to (R&A chief executive) Peter Dawson and it's all right with him. I also wrote him a letter.

"As far as the European Tour is concerned, it's a done deal. I have had an impeccable record for most of my career, so it's been done and dealt with and that's as far as it goes."

Lyle accepted criticism was inevitable but insists he made the right decision.

He added: "I know if my old man was alive, he wouldn't be too happy about it.

"There will be people who will be unhappy, and I have new sponsors as well, and you would like to show for them. But I was the one out there who was suffering and I made a decision about what was best for me."