World Golf Hall of Fame Member Sandy Lyle visited Keiser University College of Golf & Sport Management last week to catch up with his former Coach and close friend, Ken Martin, who is a PGA Faculty Member at the College of Golf. Mr. Lyle was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012 based on a stellar competitive career on the U.S. and European PGA Tours. While his resume shines with victories at the 1985 Open Championship, THE PLAYERS Championship in 1987, and the 1988 Masters Tournament, the historical significance of those wins and the affect Lyle had on his contemporaries is even more impressive.
When author Robert Philip was helping Lyle write his autobiography, “To The Fairway Born,” Philip approached Seve Ballesteros about writing the forward to the book. When asked about just how great Lyle was at his peak, the Spanish legend replied, “The greatest God-given talent in history. If everyone in the world was playing their best, Sandy would win and I’d come second.” It’s the kind of compliment that transcends a resume. And Ballesteros was qualified to give it, considering how often he and Lyle did battle on the course in the 1970s and 80s.
Ballesteros and Lyle will be forever linked as leaders of a resurgence of European golf in the 1980s. After decades of Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson dominating on the world stage, Europe made a comeback led by Lyle, Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam. The press dubbed them the “Big Five.”
In 1985, Mr. Lyle won the Open Championship, becoming the first Brit to win the title since Tony Jacklin’s victory in 1969. In 1987, he became the first international player to capture another golf jewel, THE PLAYERS Championship. In 1988, Mr. Lyle became the first Briton to win the Masters Tournament, when he birdied the last hole with a famous shot from the fairway bunker. It was the first time someone birdied No. 18 to win the Masters since Arnold Palmer in 1960.
It was an honor to host Sandy Lyle, and Keiser University College of Golf & Sport Management wish him success as he continues to compete on the Champions Tour.