Lyle's Masters invitation for Spain revoked

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The Independent Online
Sandy Lyle, 128th in this year's European money list, has had an invitation to this week's Volvo Masters in Spain taken away after a meeting of the Tour's tournament committee.

The former Open and US Masters champion, who won the Volvo Masters four years ago, was offered a place on 2 August in the pounds 900,000 season-ending event. The committee then decided the six invitations should go to non- members of the Tour and decided that Lyle's spot be offered elsewhere. Only two of the six invitational places have been taken up, by South Africa's David Frost and China's Zhiang Lian Wei. The 66-strong field has been filled instead by the next players on the Order of Merit.

Lyle, who has not had a tournament victory since his success at Valderrama in 1992, will finish the season having played only 10 events on the European Tour, one less than the minimum allowed. But it will not affect his standing. He has had an unhappy time on both sides of the Atlantic: he stands 167th on the American circuit and has had to deal with the trauma of losing both parents this year.

Lyle's business manager, Jeremy Ward, said yesterday: "Sandy cannot understand why the members' General Regulations handbook was not amended to define clearly this decision [that only non-members of the Tour be offered invitations to Valderrama]".

Robert Allenby, third in the Order of Merit, has been told that despite fracturing his sternum in a car crash three weeks ago, he has to tee off at Valderrama to collect a bonus from Volvo. If he stays third it amounts to pounds 73,000, so Allenby is flying to Spain from his home in Australia and is likely to play only one shot - possibly with his putter - before retiring from the event.

By playing his one shot, Allenby hopes to secure a place in next April's US Masters, but he regrets having to do it because it is keeping another player, Yorkshire's Stuart Cage, out of the Spanish tournament.

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