Sandy Lyle makes nightmare start at Masters to mar record appearance

Sandy Lyle’s record 37th consecutive appearance at Augusta National quickly turned into a nightmare as the 85th Masters got under way.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 5:00 pm

Lyle, who became the first British player to claim a green jacket in 1988, made an excellent start with a birdie on the second, but bogeyed the next and then took seven on the fourth after thinning a bunker shot over the green.

Further shots went on the fifth and sixth to leave Lyle six over par after six holes, eight strokes off the early pace being set by American Hudson Swafford.

Lyle had shared the record for most consecutive appearances by a non-American with South African Gary Player, who won three times in his run of straight starts between 1974 and 2009. Arnold Palmer holds the overall record of 50 from 1955-2004.

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Sandy Lyle

Player had earlier continued his role as honorary starter with six-time champion Jack Nicklaus and the pair were joined by Lee Elder, the first black player to compete in the Masters.

Elder made his Masters debut in 1975 and recorded a best finish of joint 17th in 1979 from six appearances.

The 86-year-old was not able to hit a ceremonial drive on the opening hole but was warmly applauded after being introduced to the spectators by Masters chairman Fred Ridley.

“Today, Lee Elder will inspire us and make history once more, not with a drive, but with his presence, strength and character,” Ridley said.

Nicklaus, 81, and Player, 85, hit drives on the first before retiring to the clubhouse and giving a press conference alongside Elder.

“For me and my family, I think it was one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in,” Elder said.

“My heart is very soft this morning, not heavy soft, soft because of the wonderful things that I have encountered since arriving here on Monday and being able to see some of the great friends that I have made over the past years, especially like these two gentlemen that are here.”

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