There is an irony surrounding this whole Sandy-Monty saga. Lyle ignited the issue by defending himself when asked is he thought his withdrawal from last year’s Open had wrecked his chances of becoming Ryder Cup captain. The irony is that Lyle has never been a serious contender for the captaincy, whether he braved the weather at Birkdale last year or not.
Lyle was a great golfer of boundless talent. His triumphs in the 1985 Open and the 1988 Masters – becoming the first Briton to don the Green Jacket – were peerless, and he was also a fine player in five Ryder Cups. But Lyle has never been a leader of men. Brilliance does not convert into leadership
as a matter of course. Look at Nick Faldo.
Tony Jacklin was a born leader; Sam Torrance has a charisma that naturally lent itself to captaincy; Bernard Langer was a skipper in complete control. Sandy Lyle would struggle to succeed as a captain’s assistant. Lyle is a very amiable man, and as honest as the Scottish days in summer are long, but he does not possess the tact, presence of mind, positive outlook or decisive thought that a successful captain requires.
Lyle can’t be blamed for harbouring the ambition to be Ryder Cup captain, but his name has never made the Tournament Committee’s short list for a reason.