Sandy Lyle doesn’t consider his adjustment to American golf complete. It is, however, a lot closer after the Scotsman overcame a nagging stigma Sunday by holding on to win the $500,000 Greater Greensboro Open.
“I’ve worked very hard for it. There’s been a lot of sweat lost over the last few days,” said Lyle, a winner by two shots over Andy Bean. “It’s very rewarding. The money’s good, too.”
Lyle now goes to the Master’s at Augusta, Ga. But that’s after what he hints will be a few days of celebration.
“Well, if I can sober up by about Thursday, I should feel good for it.”
Lyle had never won a tournament in the United States, although he is one of the top players on the European tour. Sunday’s victory earned him $90,000.
“You’ve just got to keep banging on,” Lyle said after his final-round 70 gave him a 72-hole total of 275, a 13-under-par score that tied the Forest Oaks Country Club record. “It’s been one of my big problems, believing that I could do it over here,” he said. “I’ve done it everywhere else but America. This time, it’s come right.”
Lyle’s work was made difficult because Bean was on his heels for the final nine holes. Starting the day at six-under-par, Bean overcame a bogey on No. 3 and finished the last two holes on the front nine with consecutive birdies to close to within three shots.
Lyle started the round with a par, but dropped a stroke when he pulled his tee shot on No. 2, hit a cameraman on his second shot and left his third shot short of the green. He two-putted for a bogey.
“It was a little bit unsettling there,” Lyle said. “And then I played fairly solid golf from there on. Meanwhile, I’ve got Andy Bean breathing down my neck.”
Bean’s charge continued with birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. Lyle also birdied Nos. 9 and 10, but his comfortable edge was down to two shots with seven holes to play.
“Even when I birdied 10, it was still pretty wide open,” Bean said.
Bean was within birdie distance on the par-5 No. 13, but he missed the putt.
At No. 15, Bean birdied to close the gap to one shot, but he couldn’t catch Lyle.
After making par at No. 16, Bean missed 12-foot birdie putts at Nos. 17 and 18.
“Most any year, with a par on 18, you’ve got a pretty good chance,” Bean said. “But when you’ve got someone who hits it as long as (Lyle) does, and you’re playing as well as he’s playing, you don’t make too many bogeys.”
Lyle ended his round with a birdie on No. 18. Bean won $54,000 for second.
Isao Aoki shot a 66 for a 279 which tied him with Leonard Thompson who shot a 69.
Lanny Wadkins was next at 280.