If it's to be Sandy Lyle's last Open Championship, he left the stage with a final bit of magic

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Sandy Lyle Signs Off In Style At Carnoustie

Barring victory at the Senior Open at St Andrews next week, Sandy Lyle has played his last Open Championship – but he left Carnoustie with a birdie putt that will live long in the memory.

Knowing the 147th Open Championship could be his final appearance in golf’s oldest Major, the 1985 champion rolled in a birdie from long range to raise the roof on the notoriously difficult 18th.

It may have wiped its feet, but when it disappeared from view it only made the roars louder.

Sadly, the 60-year-old needed a top-10 finish here to qualify for Portrush next year with his automatic exemption into the field coming to an end.

The Hall of Famer reached the turn in one-under yesterday, before an inward 40 scuppered his chances of contending over the weekend.

Despite shooting 76 on Friday, the 1988 Masters champion was all smiles as he left the final green.

“A great way to finish the last three holes, 1-under, said an emotional Lyle. “For 20 years, I don’t believe I finished below par on the last three holes.

“I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. I managed to stay away from crying, but definitely a lump in the throat. There’s always a chance I could play my way back into the tournament. I will try. I won’t totally, totally give up.

“In theory, it seems like it’s the last Open for me as far as turning back. I’ll have to work to get back in again. I have no regrets. I’ve had a good run. I’d like to beat Gary Player one time. He had the 65 rule. I didn’t have that to play with.”

Lyle fans will take comfort knowing their man hasn’t dismissed the idea that he could yet make a reappearance at The Open.

“If it’s [qualifying] up here in Scotland and I’m living up here, I might just give it a run in the next few years. That would be it.”

Up next, it’s a trip to St Andrews, although he’s only once won as a senior, and that was seven years ago. Should that fairytale win not materialise, he’s left golf fans with many a fond memory.