A Charitable Twist of Fate for Allenby

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Jarrod Lyle must have felt he was living a dream: walking down fairways framed by wispy grass and dotted with tiny pot bunkers and their sodden walls, the black-and-yellow scoreboards next to each green, fans lining every hole at Royal Liverpool.
 
This is his first British Open, so thats to be expected.
 
Walking alongside him was Robert Allenby, playing golfs oldest championship for the 14th time. And he surely felt the same way.
 
Jarrod Lyle
Jarrod Lyle is competing in his first Open Championship.
Awesome, Allenby said quietly, recalling when they met, still amazed that their paths would cross here.
 
Allenby has been involved with Challenge a Cancer Support Network in Australia for more than a dozen years, raising $8 million to help pay for treatments and look after families whose children are battling cancer.
 
Seven years ago, one of those kids in the program was Lyle.
 
He was an aspiring golfer, although he didnt have the pedigree of the some of the rising stars Down Under. Lyle was playing off a 2 handicap when he was diagnosed at age 17 with acute myeloid leukemia.
 
He was never told the odds of making a full recovery, and he didnt want to know.
 
I just wanted to fight it out with everything I had, Lyle said.
 
Inspiration came from Allenby, his favorite player. Lyle remembers seeing him at a golf tournament as a young teenager, and he recalled one time he saw Allenby in the parking lot at Victoria Golf Club, ran up to him and got his autograph.
 
They didnt formally meet until Lyle was in the hospital fighting for his life.
 
He had filled out an application to get involved with the Challenge a Cancer network, and mentioned his love of golf. Allenby always visits the hospital around Christmas, and this time made a special trip.
 
I was on my back in intensive care. I couldnt be bothered talking to anyone, Lyle said. I had a couple of mates at the hospital who had come to see me that day and I told them, I cant see him. I dont want to see him. I dont want him to see me the way I am.
 
I had no hair, I had pipes (tubes) in me. He walked in the door, I looked at him and perked up. It definitely brightened my day.
 
And it helped bring Lyle to the career he always wanted.
 
Meeting Allenby made him even more determined to beat leukemia, and he did so quickly. Feeling strong again, he poured everything into golf and qualified for the Australian Open in 2004. He turned pro later that year and really got fans to pay attention when he tied for third in the Heineken Classic a year later, missing a playoff by one shot.
 
And he keeps getting better.
 
The 24-year-old tied for fourth in the Volvo China Open in the spring, and followed that with a tie for 12th in the Irish Open. But the biggest victory was earning one of three spots to the British Open from an international qualifier in Singapore at the start of the year.
 
Allenby was among the first people he called to arrange a practice round.
 
Its a dream come true, Lyle said. If someone had said seven years ago when I was flat on my back with pipes and drugs coming through me that I would be playing a major, I would have laughed at them. Its a dream. Im just cherishing every minute Im out here.
 
Allenby has had his own difficulties.
 
Once the most promising young Aussie, his career was derailed in 1994 when he was seriously injured in a car accident. He has fully recovered, winning four times each on the PGA TOUR and in Europe, along with 12 victories in Australia. Late last year, he became the first player to sweep the three biggest events at home'the Australian PGA, Australian Open and Australian Masters.
 
Allenby, 35, is cocksure in his speech and fiery with his emotions. But when asked Monday afternoon about his practice partners, he was reticent to mention his history with Lyle.
 
Boasting about good deeds is not the Aussie style.
 
Only after he had no choice but to share the details did Allenby have to concede, Its a great story. Hes a great kid.
 
Allenby was 13 when a close friend died of leukemia, and after turning pro and winning immediately, he went looking for a way to give back. That led him to Challenge a Cancer, and he began holding a golf outing at Yarra Yarra, his home club in Melbourne.
 
It went from 40 people at that first dinner, and now we have 1,500, Allenby said.
 
Along with paying for treatment, Allenby has helped supply hospital wards with televisions, computers and video games. Every two years, he brings a dozen or so kids to the United States, a three-week trip in which they stay at his house in south Florida and on his boat.
 
And he always stops by the hospital in Melbourne over Christmas.
 
A lot of kids hear about Robert, but they never meet him, Lyle said. But around Christmas time, he comes by and hes like a kid. It brightens the day when hes there.
 
Christmas marked a couple of significant anniversaries for Lyle.
 
It was around the holidays in 1999 when he last had a problem with leukemia. He has been in remission ever since, and his visit to the doctor last Christmas brought the best news of all.
 
My doctor said, I dont want to see you again, Lyle said. That was a big day for me. I went home and sipped a few beers to celebrate.
 
Then he went out and qualified for the British Open.
 
And six months later, he was at Royal Liverpool, walking the fairways with Allenby'his idol, his inspiration, his friend and now, amazingly, his peer.
 
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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  • Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

    On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

    “Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

    “My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

    Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

    New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

    In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

    Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

    “It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”


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    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

    His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

    “I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

    Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

    That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

    That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

    “Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”


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    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

    “Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

    Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.