Lyle stokes row with 'friend' Monty

Former Open winner makes matters worse as he tries to build bridges after 'cheat' allegation

They say that when you're in a hole it is time to stop digging. Sandy Lyle, however, was in full shovel mood here yesterday when he tried to apologise for the astonishing attack he had made against Colin Montgomerie in yesterday's The Independent. In the process Lyle actually managed to exacerbate the situation.

Montgomerie, the European Ryder Cup captain, certainly wasn't impressed after reading the transcript of the press conference that his countryman had felt obliged to make in the wake of bringing up the "cheating" controversy of four years before. "A strange kind of apology," said Montgomerie. Indeed, it had been.

In a statement which he read out, Lyle said "he deeply regretted jeopardising Colin's preparation for the Open Championship" and expressed his wish "that nothing more will be made of this issue". There was little to no chance of that, however, because as soon as the Q&A session started Lyle proceeded to reiterate a number of claims he had made in the interview.

At no time did the 51-year-old withdraw his comment that what Montgomerie did in Indonesia in 2005 – when he dropped his ball in a blatantly advantageous position – was "a form of what you would call cheating". "It's all been well-documented," said Lyle yesterday. "It's all on video. It's not like I'm pre-fabricating [sic]. The drop wasn't close to where it should be. And TV doesn't lie... It will probably live with him for the rest of his life."

Montgomerie's reaction to that was far from surprising. "I've nothing much to say," he said. "I'm just trying to come here and compete in the Open and my preparations have been slightly dented. No I'm not very happy about that at all."

Montgomerie donated his prize money to charity after his "wrong drop" came to light and the European Tour players' committee expressed their dissatisfaction with his actions at the time. The eight-time Order Of Merit winner had hoped back then that a line would be drawn under what became known as "Jakartagate". He certainly could never have thought it would cause such a storm again now. This episode has clearly embarrassed him hugely. Montgomerie was due to be at the annual dinner of the Association of Golf Writers last night but informed organisers during the day he would not be attending.

Inevitably the article was the talk of the locker rooms where the general consensus was that while what Lyle had said was largely true, he had been at fault for expressing it publicly. The 1985 champion admitted he was bitter about not being selected as the Ryder Cup captain, himself, and the insinuation that his actions at last year's Open – when he walked off Birkdale after just nine holes – played a role in the selection committee's decision. It was this combination which apparently triggered Lyle's tirade against a man he yesterday, somewhat optimistically, described as "still a friend".

Not everyone felt Lyle had been in the wrong, however. Gary Evans, the former English pro who finished one shot off the Open play-off in 2002, was vocal about Montgomerie's misdemeanor at the time and is clearly still incensed about the affair. "It's good that this has come out at a time when the European Tour seems to be trying to send out a warning about cheating," said Evans. "It could have been done more effectively years ago when they had a high impact player like Monty involved in a massive controversy. But instead it was brushed under the carpet.

"There is a feeling among players that some high-profile performers appear to get away with murder, while lesser players get picked on. Everyone I know feels that. Mud sticks, as Monty's case shows. That's why this has resurfaced. The only way to avoid it is to be whiter than white. As I said at the time, there was a feeling Monty's punishment didn't fit the crime."

Montgomerie must feel like he is paying now. In the Turnberry clubhouse yesterday afternoon he passed within a few feet of Lyle, who told the assembled reporters of his desire to talk to him. Montgomerie gave Lyle the most cursory of nods but carried straight on, head down. At the same time a mobile phone went off. The tune was from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly".

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003