30th anniversary: Sandy Lyle birdies final hole to win Masters
Anywhere but the bunker.
Sandy Lyle led by two strokes after both the second and third rounds of the 1988 Masters. He lost his lead on the back nine of the final round but came to the 18th hole tied with Mark Calcavecchia. Lyle teed off with a 1-iron determined not to hit the fairway bunker on the final hole.
Nothing but sand.
The tee shot bounded up the 18th fairway and, after it nearly missed a rake in front of the trap, settled in the bunker.
Lyle was aggressive with his approach, hitting the most famous 7-iron shot in Masters history. Picking the ball clean, it landed past the hole and trickled down the green to settle 10 feet from the cup. Lyle made the birdie to capture the Masters title with a final round of 1-under par and 7-under par for the tournament. It was the difference in a one-shot win over Calcavecchia.
"Personally, I thought it was over when the ball went in that front bunker," the 30-year-old Lyle said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article after winning his second major. "That trap has a very steep face. I didn't think I had a chance to get out of the bunker. But when I got to it, the lie was actually pretty good. I'd come too far. Second place wasn't good enough."
Lyle hasn't forgotten the great bunker escape. Neither will Calcavecchia.
"Every time I play the hole, I look over there and shake my head," he once said.
The last-hole dramatics came after Lyle nearly cost himself the tournament. He had a three-stroke lead after the front nine. He bogeyed No. 11 and double-bogeyed No. 12 after his shot on the par-3 hit the bank and rolled back into Rae's Creek. After Amen Corner, Lyle trailed by a stroke. He would move back into a tie with a birdie at No. 16.
After so much, Lyle had a 10-foot putt to win.
The AJC's Dave Kindred recounted the final stroke. He wrote: "Sandy Lyle said his knees were knocking over the 10-footer to win. To win, in his words, a man has to 'dig down in the bottom of your stomach.' For him on this one Sunday, 'Second wasn't good enough.' To win he birdied 16 and 18, difficult anytime, improbable on this Sunday in April. If his knees knocked over that last putt, only Sandy Lyle knew it. The putt rolled straight and true."\
Lyle was awarded his green jacket by Larry Mize, who famously won the 1987 Masters with a playoff chip-in.
Lyle's victory was the start of a run of four straight Masters championships for golfers from the United Kingdom. Lyle, from Scotland, was followed by Nick Faldo who won the next two in 1989-90 and Ian Woosnam who won in 1991.
Lyle, who also won the 1985 British Open, won 30 times in his career. He was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
This article is written by Chris Vivlamore from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experts on the business and game of golf. The best coaching tips and latest golf news delivered straight to you. Sign Up to get the latest.