While some were sympathising with Sandy Lyle's decision to throw in the towel after just 10 holes of the first round here yesterday, others were not being quite so understanding. As Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the Royal and Ancient, intimated, it is one of golf's unwritten rules – you do not quit. Not in a major, not when there is nothing wrong with you, not when an alternate is standing by, desperate for a berth. "It is disappointing," said Dawson. "He was having a bad day, but I have to say that a professional should always complete his round if he can."
Mark Brown would no doubt agree. The New Zealander had travelled to Southport on the off chance of appearing at the Open. But Brown had to watch as Lyle, a man who says he possesses every quality required to be a Ryder Cup captain, waved the white flag when 11-over.
Why? Did he sprain his wrist as badly as the defending champion, Padraig Harrington (who, incidentally, played through the pain for a highly respectable 74)? Er, no. "It was cold and my hands were hurting a bit from a few real skanky shots," said the 50-year-old, who also revealed that his spectacles had steamed up.
At least Lyle did not claim a spurious injury. "It is not very nice when you are only an hour and a half, two hours into the Open and you have basically chucked it," said the former champion. "I don't make a habit of it. I was all over the place and it was total meltdown. I did myself more harm than good staying out, so I had to get back in."
Lyle will now play in his first British Seniors Open at Troon next week. Cold tootsies notwithstanding.