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Colin Montgomerie
European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie called Sandy Lyle's apology "strange." (Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)

European Tour, R&A regret spat between Lyle and Monty

TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) -- European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady defended the handling of Colin Montgomerie’s ball drop incident in Jakarta and said Sandy Lyle’s comments that his fellow Scot cheated were inappropriate.

In a spat that’s taking some of the shine off the Open Championship, which starts Thursday at Turnberry, Lyle apologized to Montgomerie at a news conference for bringing up a 4-year-old incident in which he was accused of cheating at the 2005 Indonesian Open.

The two Scots were rivals for the captaincy of Europe’s Ryder Cup team for next year’s match at Celtic Manor in Wales, with the role going to Montgomerie.

Lyle followed his apology by saying he believed that Montgomerie placed his ball in the wrong position after a rain delay in Jakarta. Montgomerie responded by describing the apology as “strange” while the Royal and Ancient, organizers of the Open, said it regretted the argument on the eve of its signature event.

O’Grady said the Jakarta incident had been thoroughly examined.

“The tournament committee debated the Jakarta situation extensively and made a full statement at that time,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday. “The same tournament committee, at their meeting at the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year, elected Colin Montgomerie as the 2010 Ryder Cup captain and persuaded him to take the job.

“The decision was greeted in Dubai with great acclaim by the tour members, who felt the committee had chosen absolutely the right man for the job in Wales. The tour fully understands Sandy Lyle’s disappointment at not being elected captain but deeply regrets his comments which are considered wholly inappropriate and ill-timed.”

The issue was also raised at the Royal and Ancient’s pre-championship news conference on Wednesday and Chief Executive Peter Dawson said he regretted the timing of the spat.

“It’s a great shame when professional players like that get into those arguments,” Dawson said. “I very much hope it will be sorted out as soon as possible.”

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