Lyle apologises -but perhaps too late
Sandy Lyle issued an apology to Colin Montgomerie today, saying he hoped the pair would still be friends.
Sandy Lyle issued an apology to Colin Montgomerie today (Tuesday) and said he hoped the pair were still friends – but there appeared to be little hope of that.
The damage had already been done by the time the former Open and Masters champion told a packed press conference ahead of the Open at Turnberry he regretted bringing up the “cheat” controversy Europe’s Ryder Cup captain was involved in four years ago.
“I feel especially bad if I have jeopardised his preparation for the Open Championship,” said Lyle.
Yet at no time did he withdraw his comment made to two reporters a week ago and splashed across today’s sporting headlines that what Montgomerie did in Indonesia was “a form of what you would call cheating”.
Lyle pleaded the defence of “out of context”, but then added: “It’s all been well documented. It’s all on video. It’s not like I’m pre-fabricating.
“The drop wasn’t close to where it should be. And on course on TV it doesn’t lie.”
Montgomerie’s reaction to that was far from surprising.
Before going out to practise for what could be the last Open of his career, he said: “It’s a rather strange apology to be honest with you.
“It’s nothing much to do with me at all – it’s all Sandy.
“I’ve read it and I’m digesting it and I’ll let you know when I’ve digested it further.
“I’ve nothing much to say. I’m just trying to come down here and compete in the Open and my preparations have been slightly dented.
“I’m not very happy about that at all.”
Montgomerie gave his prize money to charity after the incident of his “wrong drop” came to light and the European Tour players’ committee expressed their dissatisfaction with his actions at the time.
The eight-time European number one had hoped back then a line would be drawn under what became known as “Jakartagate”. He could never have thought it would cause such a storm again now.
What Montgomerie thinks of his fellow Scot for raising the matter again is probably only for those closest to him.
He was due to attend the annual dinner of the Association of Golf Writers tonight but informed organisers during the day he would not now be coming.
Lyle said he had tried to speak to Montgomerie but the mobile number he had was “wiped out”.
His attempts will continue. Lyle added: “He’s the one I’ve hurt and he’s obviously pretty cheesed off right now.
“That’s not my intentions to do that at all. I’m in full support of him being Ryder Cup captain.”
Asked if he thought Montgomerie, unanimously chosen by the players’ committee in January in preference to Lyle, should now resign, he replied: “No. I don’t think he should jeopardise his Ryder Cup position right now.
“It’s just something that will be history in a few more days’ time – and the game of golf will grow stronger.”
Montgomerie, though, has 15 more months before the Americans defend the trophy at Celtic Manor in Wales and what Lyle may have ensured is that the incident will be discussed even more between now and then.
Former captain Bernard Gallacher – another Scot – had no doubt which side to take.
In a series of radio, television and newspaper interviews, he commented: “Sandy, unfortunately, is bitter at not being given the captaincy and what he has now done is below the belt for me.
“Monty’s explanation for what happened in the Indonesian Open was accepted by a forthright committee and, at that point, everyone should have put the matter behind them.
“I am sorry to say it, but Sandy is out of order. It is very poor what he has done, especially in the week of the Open Championship, and someone really needs to give Sandy some advice.”
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