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Sandy Lyle still pleased to compete

Nobody should have been surprised by Padraig Harrington’s victory in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, or by Colin Montgomerie coming through with a closing 63 for a share of third place. Such things are now expected of the two Ryder Cup heroes.

But it is a long time since people have held the same expectations of Sandy Lyle - so to see him finishing alongside Montgomerie at the home of golf represented a milestone in the 44-year-old’s attempt to rebuild his career.

Lyle, Open and US Masters champion back in the 1980s, has not won since the 1992 Volvo Masters, and third spot represented his best performance since he lost a play-off to Ian Woosnam in South Korea five years ago. Such has been the nosedive he has suffered that, until Sunday, Lyle did not even know if he would have a European Tour card next year.

A £159,000 cheque not only ended that worry, it was the biggest prize of a Tour career now in its 25th season.

Lyle did not manage a single top-ten finish on the circuit between 1996 and the start of this season, but was sixth in the British Masters at Woburn in June and after not earning a penny since the Open in July has leapt up from 132nd to 54th on the Order of Merit with his latest display.

"It’s a real boost for me and it’s nice to know I can still compete at this high level," said the Scot. "There are a lot of very good players out there now and it’s been pretty frustrating for me in recent times, but hopefully this is a start as I try to get back up the rankings."

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