After second leukemia bout, Lyle ready for return

By Rex HoggardNovember 12, 2013, 3:22 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – For a man who has endured two bouts with leukemia, countless rounds of chemotherapy and perhaps the most emotional 20 months imaginable, Jarrod Lyle spent Tuesday at the Australian Masters bracing for his next challenge.

Lyle, who was driven from golf in early 2012 when doctors discovered he was beset with leukemia for the second time, is making his competitive return this week at Royal Melbourne, but it wasn’t the iconic sand belt layout that was his greatest concern.

“This week the emotional side will be the hardest ... I’m crying now,” Lyle said.

Lyle overcame leukemia as a teenager in 1999 and was entering his fifth season on the PGA Tour in 2012 when an infection on his arm sent him home to Australia to see his doctors. Four days later he began chemotherapy treatments again, but not until he was able to hold his daughter, Lusi, who was born on March 11.

The 32-year-old endured multiple chemotherapy treatments and underwent a bone marrow transplant before doctors declared him cancer free in June. Two months ago doctors cleared him to start playing golf again and he picked Royal Melbourne, which is about two hours from where he grew up, to begin his comeback.

“It’s been 20 of the hardest months I’ve been through, but now it’s like I never left,” Lyle said. “The hardest part is going back out and seeing everyone. I couldn’t have picked a better spot to start my comeback.”

Lyle lost about 35 pounds during his treatment and some players on Tuesday even joked, “where’s the rest of you?” Although he admits his game is rusty, he figures he’s playing at about 70 percent of where he was before his second bout with leukemia, his goal this week was to make the cut.

“He’s hitting it pretty good, but to be honest Tour ready is a little ways away,” said Lyle’s swing coach, Sandy Jamieson.

Lyle will have 20 starts on the Tour when he returns on a major medical exemption to earn about $283,000. He is using this week as a litmus test to check the status of his game and his stamina, which has been the most difficult part of his recovery.

“This is it,” said Lyle, who is hitting the ball shorter than he did in 2012 but straighter. “I will put the clubs away for a little bit and figure things out after this.”

But it will be the emotion of the moment more so than his golf game that will be the biggest challenge this week. In 2005 at the Heineken Open Lyle initially made his mark as a professional when he put himself into contention at Royal Melbourne.

He estimated that teeing off on Thursday for Round 1 of the Australian Masters will be similar to his Sunday start in ’05.

“I wanted to hit driver (on Sunday at the Heineken Open) because it is the biggest club and I had the best chance of not missing it,” he said. “Walking to that first tee and trying to tee the ball up will be the hardest.”

Players have flocked to Lyle this week to celebrate his return, so much so he’s had to put extra focus into practice, and the well-wishing continued into a cold and rainy afternoon.

“It was horrible news,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “It’s exciting he is doing really well and that he gets to play his first tournament here.”

Officials have designed a special hat with Lyle’s signature “duck” logo on them that will benefit the Challenge foundation which is dedicated to helping cancer survivors and their families, and he said having so much support this week will likely distract from his competitive focus.

But that’s OK.

“I’m going to dedicate that first tee shot to everyone who has contacted us and supported us,” Lyle said with his voice cracking.

It was just the beginning of what promises to be an emotional week for Lyle, but as he’s proven time and again he’s adapt at overcoming adversity.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.