The 150th Open Championship: Sandy Lyle recounts 1985 win at Royal St George's

Sandy Lyle with the Claret Jug after winning the 1985 Open Championship
Sandy Lyle would go on to become the first British golfer to win the Masters at Augusta National

Sandy Lyle only won the Open Championship once but his 1985 triumph was hugely significant for UK golf.

It had been 16 years since Tony Jacklin's 1969 victory at Royal Lytham & St Anne's and with Americans dominating - Tom Watson had won five in nine attempts, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino claimed a couple apiece - the fans were desperate for a home winner.

In this week's podcast building up to July's 150th Open Championship at St Andrews, the focus is on British and Irish successes, kick-started by Jacklin and moved on by Lyle, who revealed a streaker at Royal St George's helped ease his nerves on the final tee.

Lyle had been at Lytham as a young boy and "got the smell of the tournament" as he watched Jacklin's victory.

"It left an impression in my mind, seeing a British winner and The Open not being controlled by the US," he added. It was a weekend that started the Scot on a journey that would see him become Britain's next winner of the golf's defining championship.

However, the Scot conceded he had "no expectations" of winning in 1985.

"The week before I was in Dublin and I retired in the first round when I was heading for a 90 in windy conditions, so you wouldn't say that was the greatest start to an Open Championship," he said.

"But I had a bit of inspiration. I found a driver that seemed to be working miracles. It was passed down from Eamonn Darcy to Ian Woosnam, who said it was too big, so do I want it?

"I changed the shaft straight away, which was not an easy thing to do in those days, but I drove the ball exceptionally well with it, which was a key thing for Sandwich."

Lyle started the final round three off the lead.

"I was playing with Christy O'Connor Jr, who is probably as nice a guy to play with as you'd want to have for a major championship.

"He was not a Greg Norman who would look at you with steely eyes and almost put you off.

"But between us it was like we were putting with blindfolds on, nothing was happening. Then I made a birdie putt from 40 feet on the 14th and that started the momentum."

Lyle holed a 20-foot putt on the 15th for another birdie that gave him a one-shot lead, a lead he would still have on the 18th tee.

"There was a tremendous commotion up on the green and I couldn't quite see what was going on, but in fact it was a streaker," said Lyle.

"It was a good time for a bit of humour, to back off and relax a bit."

He said he hit an "adequate" drive but missed the green with his second shot, finding greenside rough. Then he "fluffed" his chip, the ball failing to get up the slope in front of him and running back towards his feet.

"I went down on my knees so I could have a few swear words to myself and nobody could lip-read," laughed Lyle.

"The scoreboard started to change just after I hit that chip shot. If it had changed 10 seconds earlier I would probably have been more aggressive knowing I now had a two-shot lead because Bernhard Langer had bogeyed 16."

Lyle two-putted from the edge of the green but said he was "a little deflated because I thought probably it was an opportunity missed of winning outright".

He then faced an anxious 35-minute wait in the recorders hut watching while Langer finished up, unable to get on level terms.

"There was a lot of emotion," said Lyle when he realised he'd won. "All the banked up concentration, putting your game face on for many hours, its all gone.

"There's relief and excitement, almost like you could sit down and be a blob for half an hour and gather your thoughts."

Lyle's victory sparked a mini flurry of home wins with England's Nick Faldo claiming three titles in six years from 1987.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie was an unlikely winner in 1999 before Ireland's Padraig Harrington won successive titles in 2007 and 2008.

Darren Clarke's 2011 triumph came after 20 years of trying while in 2014 his fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy claimed his one and only Claret Jug to date.

And of course, nobody will forget the emotion of Ireland's Shane Lowry winning in 2019 when The Open returned to Royal Portrush on the Northern Ireland coast. You can hear from Lowry in the podcast...

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