The Fighter, Part 6: Health, family and golf on Lyle’s side

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2014, 11:14 am

SHEPPARTON, Australia – Last November Jarrod Lyle exceeded everyone’s expectations, even his own.

Before teeing off for his first competitive round in nearly two years at the 2013 Australian Masters, Lyle acknowledged that he didn’t really know what to expect since beating leukemia for the second time.

“You get out there and you hit shots that you’ve never hit before and you sort of think to yourself, ‘I don’t know where that one came from, and I don’t like it,’” Lyle said before the Australian Masters. “You know I’ve hit a few hosels out of bounds and got myself into a bit of trouble, but you know it’s all part and parcel of coming back.”

From those lowered expectations came an opening-round 72 at Royal Melbourne, followed by a relatively stress-free 71 and then a Saturday 70 to head into the final round tied for 29th place. Although he struggled on Sunday (79) and tied for 57th, his enthusiasm was not dampened.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Lyle said. “I’m just loving the whole opportunity and looking forward to playing for the first time in a long time.”

With the ultimate goal a return to the PGA Tour, where he was beginning his fifth full season in 2012 when he was diagnosed for the second time with leukemia, Lyle continued his comeback at this week’s Victorian Open.

When Lyle does return to the Tour, his fellow competitors may not recognize him. The chemotherapy and radiation treatments he endured in his second bout with cancer caused a significant weight loss. For the first time in his career he has started to split time between the gym and practice tee.

The swing, however, will be the same.

Following his successful bone-marrow transplant in 2012 and his decision to return to competitive golf, Lyle reunited with his former swing coach Sandy Jamieson, who met the Australian while he was attending the Victorian Institute of Sport and worked with him earlier in his career.

“I felt we had unfinished business, and at times our relationship when I was coaching him there was a fantastic relationship,” Jamieson said. “So the chance to sort of rekindle that was probably one of the most exciting things professionally that has happened to me.”

Lyle’s initial competitive concern was a predictable lack of length off the tee. In 2010 he ranked 23rd in driving distance on Tour. At the Australian Masters he said his lack of power and stamina was his biggest concern.

“When we started working together it was in the middle of the winter and Jarrod was worried that he had lost all of his distance,” Jamieson said. “But the thing is with golf pros, they follow the sun, and he hadn’t had a winter hitting golf balls for probably 10 years,”

While the broad brush strokes of Lyle’s comeback are set, with the ultimate goal a competitive return to the PGA Tour, the specifics remain a moving target.

Lyle will have 20 events under his major medical exemption to earn $283,825, which combined with his earnings before he was diagnosed with leukemia would match No. 125 on the 2012 money list.

According to his manager, Tony Bouffler, the plan is for Lyle to return to America in August to play three “rehab” starts on the Tour. He is allowed a total of five rehab starts, and the Australian Masters and Victorian Open count against that total. Then Lyle hopes to pick up his PGA Tour career in October at the start of the 2014-15 season, depending on which events he’s able to get into.

All that, however, is contingent on his continued recovery and his game.

“There’s things that I still need to keep a close eye on health-wise, and the doctors are probably a little reluctant to let me travel too far away, so it’s not worth me trying to get back too early,” Lyle said. “I don’t want to go over there and waste my medical (exemption) by coming over too early and not being prepared enough to play.” What is not unclear is his drive to play the Tour again. His finish at the Australian Masters may have fueled his confidence, but not his desire. That was always there.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.