Golf: Happy return beckons for Lyle

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The Independent Online
TEN months ago Sandy Lyle came out of a three-year slump with victory in the BMW International Open in Munich. Yesterday he returned to the course preparing to prevent an American takeover of this year's BMW.

'I do have fond memories of this place,' Lyle said. 'After all I'd been through, a win was the only real cure. It didn't matter where or when it was or how I did it, I had to win again.

'Taking this title last October really helped enormously. It answered a lot of the critics who questioned whether I'd come back and it was important in terms of contracts. Companies needed to see that I could win again, so it helped in every way possible,' Lyle, who won last year with a 20- under-par 268, said.

'I think my progress has been super since winning the BMW. Things are looking quite rosy. On a scale of one to 10, I'm probably operating at eight and a half or nine. I can compete well at that level.'

The defending champion faces a group of prominent Americans, including Payne Stewart, Paul Azinger and Davis Love III. With the US PGA in St Louis, Missouri, next week, the 90F heat in Munich should prove useful acclimatisation.

'St Louis has the potential to be the hottest place in the country in mid-August,' he said. 'It can be really unbearable - smothering, suffocating heat. It won't suit the Europeans but I suppose it won't really suit anyone.'

Azinger, the winner here in 1990, believes he is returning to form after an 'awful Muirfield' in which he never looked a serious challenger for the Open.

Severiano Ballesteros has withdrawn from next week's US PGA. In a letter to the PGA of America his brother, Manuel, blamed back problems. The Spaniard has missed the cut in three of his last five tournaments.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 438 4 10th 471 4 2nd 216 3 11th 532 5 3rd 425 4 12th 159 3 4th 359 4 13th 375 4 5th 327 4 14th 437 4 6th 482 5 15th 401 4 7th 444 4 16th 334 4 8th 207 3 17th 191 3 9th 547 5 18th 565 5 Out: 3,445 36 In: 3,465 36 Total: 6,919 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------