Lyle braced for an emotional finale as the LIV rebels set out on a quest for glory

The regular outpourings of dewy awe, cooing admiration, and tearful adoration that erupt in this gulf Garden of Eden could nearly burst the banks of Rae’s Creek.

Amidst all the Masters hype and hype surrounding Rory McIlroy possibly doing this, Tiger Woods possibly that, and the LIV Rebels maybe a bit of the other, there will be a gentle nod of appreciation for a great champion when he in the 87th edition of This Georgia showpiece begins today.

“In front, please, Sandy Lyle is driving now,” the official starter will yell just before 1:25 p.m. British time. It will mark the beginning of the end of an era.

After Lyle, the 1988 Masters champion, quietly broke the news last week that he was retiring on the 50+ Champions Tour, there will be a day after his 42nd appearance in Augusta.

At 65, Lyle, the only Scot in the field, readily admits that this course “kicked my butt many times”. There he is not wrong. Since he donned the green jacket 35 years ago, Lyle has had just one other top 20 finish at the Masters. Most recently, he made the halfway cut in 2014.

“The time has come,” he told BBC Sport of his decision to drop the curtain. “It gets emotional. Hopefully I don’t burst into tears on the 18th.”

As good old Sandy starts his swan song, everyone anxiously awaits to see who will be singing the inaugural Major of the Year. Of course, predictions in this volatile game tend to be a silly thing. So if you’re looking for that certain fool who tells you who to bet on, forget it. After all, my idea of ​​a crucial flutter is to poke a fiver in each direction at the Varsity Boat Race at Oxford.

The mere mention of the word LIV may have you rolling your eyes with shrugging indifference, but the presence of 18 defectors has added considerable intrigue to matters. By all accounts, Phil Mickelson, who led the rebel movement, spoke to no one at the Champions Dinner the other night. Maybe he was just too busy stuffing his face with Scottie Scheffler’s cheeseburger sliders?

A major of such dazzling prestige as the Masters should above all be the various stooshies of golf’s Civil War, but once the rankings take shape it becomes difficult not to view the names through the lens of their allegiance.

The LIV renegades have essentially amassed generational wealth over the past few months by playing among themselves.

This week we’ll see if a 54-hole feast diet without cut beans had any effect on their competitive spirit. If none of them claim, the noise of ridicule from those claiming that the Saudi bank-funded series has no relevance will shatter the stonework of the Saracen Bridge. However, if either of them wins, the thunderous triumphalism of LIV supremo Greg Norman will knock needles off the US Seismic Center charts.

“I think it’s just important for the LIV guys to be up there because I think we need to be up there,” Cameron Smith, the Open champion and LIV recruit, said this week.

There will be plenty of Smith’s LIV comrades who will want to be up there. Brooks Koepka, for example, came out of the doldrums and won at the LIV circuit last week.

“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about what I can do when I’m healthy,” said the electrified Koepka, who has won four of the last 20 Majors he’s competed in and finished tied for second at the 2019 Masters.

The knight in shining armor of the established tours is, of course, McIlroy. This is his 15th Masters appearance and even the old Tiger declared it was “only a matter of time” before the Northern Irishman wins in this community and finally concludes the career grand slam. However, it is easier said than done. Only two champions, Sergio Garcia and Mark O’Meara, played 15 or more Masters before snuggling into a green jacket. Is it McIlroy’s time? Time will indeed tell. Before please… Lyle braced for an emotional finale as the LIV rebels set out on a quest for glory

Russell Falcon

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