Sandy Lyle’s victory in The Open at Sandwich in 1985 was greeted with patriotic fervour and sparked a run of eight major titles – four Opens and four Masters – by British golfers in seven years.
As an 11-year-old boy, Lyle had sat in the grandstand at the 18th green at Royal Lytham when Tony Jacklin won The Open in 1969.
When Jacklin threw his ball into the crowd, Lyle almost caught it. No matter, 16 years later he became the next home winner at Royal St George’s in 1985.
Lyle’s experience at the 72nd hole was more fraught than Jacklin’s. He came to the last one ahead, but his approach run off into Duncan’s Hollow to the left of the green.
His first chip just failed to crest the slope and it rolled down to his feet, Lyle sank to his knees in despair. He got up and down for a 5 but now had to wait.
As it turned out, David Graham bogeyed three of the last four holes and Bernhard Langer two of the last three. It left Lyle as winner by one stroke from Payne Stewart, with Graham and Langer sharing third place with Christy O’Connor Jnr, Jose Rivero and Mark O’Meara.
Lyle had started the final day three off the lead and the crucial part of his round were the birdies at the 14th and 15th holes. At the 14th, a poor drive left him short of the Suez Canal in two, but he hit a 2-iron onto the green and holed from 20 feet. At the next he holed from 12 feet.
He was the first Scot to win The Open since Tommy Armour in 1931, but the first who had not become a naturalised American since George Duncan in 1920.
O’Connor broke Henry Cotton’s record for St George’s from 1935 with an opening 64 that included seven birdies in a row from the fourth and a nine-hole sequence played in “level 3s”. Lyle’s 282 total was the first over-par winning score since 1968.