Sandy Lyle will be honored along with fellow 2012 inductees Phil Mickelson, Hollis Stacy, Peter Alliss and Dan Jenkins at the Hall of Fame's Induction Ceremony on May 7, 2012 at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. The Ceremony is held on the Monday of THE PLAYERS Championship week.
Mark Williams sat down with Sandy Lyle at the recent Toshiba Classic to discuss his upcoming participation in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf in Savannah and his impending induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, The Toshiba Classic, where he finished T70, was Lyle's first Champions Tour event since the Songdo IBD Championship last September.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: You played with Peter Senior at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf last year and you were tied for the lead after two rounds, eventually finishing tied for eighth. What is it about you and Peter that makes you a good team?
SANDY LYLE: Well, I think with any team work you have to combine well, and I think Peter and I've been around each other in Europe and overseas for many times and he's just a good solid player. You know in the back of your mind you can let loose a little bit on the par 5s. And if I mess up I could pretty much rely on Peter Senior to make the birdies or the pars, whatever. I think I should talk about Ryder Cup things.
You got to have a gelling part of it. He's quite happy for me to read some of the lines for him and I'm quite happy to give advice on the lines as well. We rely on our caddies for clubbing and things, but generally we talk and communicate, and I think that's half the battle. Talk, communicate and handle it well when things aren't going so well which is an important thing because you can lose momentum very quickly from the game if you get off to a poor start and then it becomes static, you are not talking to each other.
It's like a good marriage that breaks down now and then. But generally you can have bad spells with bogeys and you take the hit and get on with it. If you get eagles and birdies coming in, then that's great for a team.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Did you guys play a lot together in Europe? Did you just hang out off the course a bit?
SANDY LYLE: We played quite a bit together, because he was playing when I was playing in Europe. So he was a regular. He was a great player. He was always knocking at the door many times, so you saw a lot of him. I played with him quite a bit. He's just been a very solid player.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: You have had a lot of experience in team competition, Dunhill Cups and World Cups and Ryder Cups. What is it that makes a really good team player?
SANDY LYLE: As I just said, you must gel well, and you look at the different styles of play. And when we play there in Savannah you want to have somebody who can putt very well and somebody who is very straight, but you also need a couple of long hitters, too. Where you get the ball out there and take advantage of some of the par 5 holes. And I am more on the long side of it. I don't always do what I'm supposed to do but I can still make an eagle now and then.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: I'm sure you played a lot of team events as an amateur as well. Are there any stories from team events that you might be able to share with us that stand out to you?
SANDY LYLE: Yes, I think very clearly in my mind one of the best sort of team players in a Ryder Cup I had was Bernhard Langer. We played against Lanny Wadkins and Larry Nelson as a foursome in the morning. And we managed to win. But they have been unbeatable in the Ryder Cup and Bernhard and I managed to win that morning. And lo and behold in the afternoon draw, the better ball, we got the same pairing again against Larry Nelson and Lanny Wadkins, and we beat them again in the afternoon.
Langer was just unbelievable. He tries so hard. He concentrates and we gelled well and it was one of the best days of golf I've had for enjoyment in beating two great players that have beaten most of our guys for many years. When you even mention it to Lanny Wadkins even now, 20 some years now, he'll still say I can't believe we lost that match in the afternoon. He had five birdies himself in the last five holes and lost ground. That's the way things were going.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Now you are back in the USA after a stretch in Europe. Coming back here, everyone knows you are about to be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame. What's the reaction that you have had from some of the other players this week?
SANDY LYLE: Oh, it's been super. I think nearly everybody I've seen says, 'Oh, by the way, congratulations.' They seem pleased that the Hall has recognized me. They say 'It's about time as well.' So that's good. A very warm welcome. It's a very good feeling.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: When you found out, where were you and what were you doing? Did you get a phone call?
SANDY LYLE: I was home. I got a phone call from the commissioner of the European Tour, Mr. O'Grady. We got word, for a while, that his secretary said, Mr. O'Grady would like to speak to Sandy Lyle. He is not here right now. He will be here tomorrow. I thought what have I done wrong, you know? He was over in Spain at the time. So he phoned me personally to congratulate me. He had been on vacation.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Was it a pretty emotional time? Was it expected or unexpected?
SANDY LYLE: Well, you never really expect it. You know, I know I've been on the short list quite a few years. You kind of lose a little bit of heart. Well, if I don't get it now, instead of five or six years ago, then I don't feel like I've got much chance later on because memories seem to fade away a little bit over the years, The Masters and the Open and things like that. No, it's lovely. It's a really nice humbling start to the season to have this situation arrive and I'm really happy about it.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: You live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, have you ever been to the World Golf Hall of Fame?
SANDY LYLE: I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't been to the Hall of Fame even though we are only about 20 minutes down the road. My wife went there just about two weeks ago and said they've done a very nice job. So we have been rounding up some of my old trophies and schoolboy trophies and things like that and going through a few of the suitcases to see what we could rummage up to put on the wall to display.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: So not having been there, you have obviously seen pictures of it, do you have some idea in your mind of what it might be like and do you think that it might surprise you when you get there?
SANDY LYLE: I generally thought maybe it was just a big board with your name on it on a wall or something. But I have seen the DVD of last year's induction ceremony, and they show you different things. Yes, it's very, very nicely done, good thinking. Having your name engraved on a stone outside and the locker rooms. It's a big deal.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Have you discussed with any of the current Hall of Fame members what the ceremony is like and what to expect? Did you get any ideas from them?
SANDY LYLE: I spoke to (Jose Maria) Olazabal around Christmas time because he was there in London when we were having a big fund raising event for Seve (Ballesteros) after he passed away. So I was sitting with Olazabal. He is on the DVD for 2011 with his speech and he did a wonderful job. Yes, it was very humbling and a great experience and something you shouldn't miss.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: At the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf last year, you probably saw a lot of guys that are already in the Hall of Fame. What do you think it's going to be like when you play the tournament knowing you will be joining the likes of Billy Casper and others from that era?
SANDY LYLE: Oh, yes, there are always quite a few there. It's just a unique thing they have. It's a bit like winning The Masters. You become part of a club. You are in a small community of not many players, like 35 players or something like that. Every year you kind of meet together and sometimes we lose one because of age and sometimes we gain another new one.
It's very, very unique to be part of that. You feel very humble to be part of it. That feeling will be the same with the Hall of Fame. It's something at the end of your career, really, it's nice to tell your family, Dad was a Hall of Famer. It means something.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Speaking of family, how many family members will be attending your induction do you think?
SANDY LYLE: Well, we have quite a few. I don't think my house is big enough right now. One of my sisters is coming out, and she is bringing out two of her daughters. They have never been together sort of traveling. And they are going to go to The Masters as well. So that's very nice. And I've got maybe some of my old caddies that are coming over.
I have Renton Laidlaw, he's not a household name you have over here, but he has been doing television commentating for the world feed for many, many years. A very, very familiar voice when you hear him. So I asked him about a month ago if he would be obliged to do that, you know, introduce me. So I'm looking forward to that, too.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: So it should be an exciting induction ceremony?
SANDY LYLE: Yes. With Peter Alliss and a lot of nice players it should be very entertaining, old and new. It's something not to be missed.