In the lull between major championship storms, we search for new ways to describe Jarrod Lyle’s inspiring return to golf, and a reason why Bubba Watson’s search history appears to be half empty.
Lyle’s legacy. In many ways it was like he’d never left.
For Jarrod Lyle, his opening 67 at the Midwest Classic on Thursday felt like old times, four birdies, 14 pars, that familiar welcoming smile.
There were no outward signs of the scars left by the graft-versus-host disease he will likely deal with the rest of his life, the byproduct of the stem cell transplant that allowed him to beat leukemia for the second time, or the hours of chemotherapy he had to endure.
It was the best possible start for Lyle, who began the first of three rehabilitation starts on the Web.com Tour this week as he prepares to return to the PGA Tour this fall for the first time since being diagnosed in early 2012.
“I always said through my treatment that if I never hit another golf shot I could walk away from the game and be happy," Lyle said. "I wasn't going to live or die by playing golf. I live and die by my family (wife Briony and daughter Lusi). It means the world to me to have them both here and supporting me in my golf again. I'll do anything for those two.”
Lyle’s fate as a professional golfer remains unknown, but his status as an inspiring tale was solidified long ago.
Pool party. For all those who continue to question the International Golf Federation’s decision to use 72-hole, individual stroke play as the format for the 2016 Olympic Games, this week’s International Crown will only rekindle that debate.
The first-year team event will include pool play the first three days with each team playing two best-ball matches against every country in its pool. The top two countries in each pool – plus one wild card – will advance to Sunday’s final round of singles play.
While the format may be on the Mensa side of confusing, it could create a few compelling match ups and even some rare Saturday drama. As for the Olympic dream, that ship – at least as it relates to the ’16 Games – has sailed. But it’s never too soon to start a campaign for the 2020 Games.
Tweet of the week: @bencranegolf (Ben Crane) “Being at a tournament and not starting in it is a new experience. Makes me love/appreciate the game more. Going to qualify outright next year.”
There are a lot of reasons to respect Crane’s decision to fly from Oregon to England for a chance to play in the Open Championship (which he did not). Perspective just makes it that much more endearing.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Another Monty moment. European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley may have been a consensus choice for many of his potential players, but for those of us who carry notebooks for a living there may never be another captain like Colin Montgomerie.
The outspoken Scot made the 2010 matches particularly entertaining thanks to a steady diet of juicy sound bites, and this week at the Senior Open Championship in Wales he gave the U.S. team some early bulletin board material.
“If (Bernhard) Langer and I were paired together in the foursomes, we’d feel we could bring a point home for Europe,” Montgomerie said. “We’d need to sit out the four-ball (matches) though – we’d be knackered.”
Considering Montgomerie and Langer’s solid play on the Champions Tour this season – they’ve combined to win five times, including the last two senior majors – perhaps they could make a game of it against America’s best.
The U.S. team may not like Monty’s take, but they can’t be surprised he would say it.
Being Bubba. Considering the level of background noise and vitriol that permeates sports today it’s not surprising to discover a professional athlete who has elected to tune out.
“Sometimes you can get too much bad talk or negative talk where you think you're the worst golfer in the world. Next week I could probably win; this week I'll probably miss the cut. It fluctuates,” said Bubba Watson after explaining that he had removed the internet from his phone.
“I'm trying to stay away from negative and positive, just remain even keel. As long as my wife loves me and my child thinks daddy is the greatest, then I'm good to go.”
Cut Line often wonders why more players don’t follow a similar path. But where Watson drew a few double takes was when he was asked if he ever read the positive comments about him.
“There's not been one positive thing. I'm waiting on that one. Then I'll start reading. Well, I can't read yet, but I'll start,” he said.
Which prompted a quick Google search:
“He swings out of his shoes with a pink-shafted driver, his golf ball traveling distances that are awed and admired. Bubba Golf, it is called, often with disbelief and wonder.”
-ESPN.com, April 13, 2014
“This wasn’t Bubba golf as much as it was simply great golf.”
-Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2014 (following his victory at the Northern Trust Open)
“Even after Saturday’s 74 left him tied with Spieth, Watson remained unfazed on his way to a sixth PGA Tour. It seems Bubba has grown up.”
-GolfChannel.com, April 13, 2014
“Watson swings with an individuality and majesty that belongs with other mind-blowing athletic motions, like Tim (The Freak) Lincecum's pitching delivery or sprinter Usain Bolt's stride.”
-Golf Digest, August 2009
“For Watson, the tears pour because when blessings flow, he often asks the question, why? ... With gifts that great, the better question is, why not?”
-Golfweek.com, April 13, 2014
All of which makes your scribe wonder what exactly Watson was searching for before he nixed the Internet from his phone?