CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — It is has been said often this week that the Hall of Famer Sandy Lyle, a youthful 60-year-old, is playing in his final British Open, as he will have aged-out of his automatic exemption into the field by next year’s event, at Portrush — unless he wins the Senior British Open or finishes in the top-10 here at Carnoustie.
A top-10 finish does not seem particularly likely, given his Thursday 75 (35 out, 40 in). Making the cut will be a tall order. Could he win the senior event at the Old Course next week? Of course he could, although that would seem like a long shot, too. He has won only once as a senior and that was in 2011.
But there is another route for Lyle into next year’s Open Championship, which would be his 44th. (Only Gary Player, who has played in 47 Opens, has played in more.) And that is through the 36-hole one-day final qualifier held each year in early July. That is how Retief Goosen, 49, punched his ticket into this year’s event.
In 2002, the indefatigable Player, at age 66, had entered the 36-hole final final qualifier, but a rib injury forced him to withdraw.
After his first-off round on Thursday, Lyle said, “After nine holes, I was very happy. Level par. I wasn’t very happy with the last nine holes. That was a disappointing 75. But with any hope, maybe tomorrow we can shoot a low number, a couple under, might have a chance.”
Might have a chance of making the cut. If he makes the cut, he might have a chance at a top-10. If he top-10s he’s in next year’s field, for sure.
If not, there are other ways.