MELBOURNE, Australia – Posters all over Melbourne this week announced, “The Master returns” with a picture of Adam Scott following his triumph this spring at Augusta National. After Day 1 at the Australian (Talisker) Masters they may want to add, “. . . and the medical miracle.”
Jarrod Lyle, playing his first event in 18 months following his second bout with leukemia, overcame an emotional start on the first tee to post a 1-over 72 for a share of 39th place.
“The hardest part is over,” smiled Lyle, referring to his opening tee shot which was made even more difficult through tears. “It was everything I thought it was going to be. I was standing there ready to go and then I heard Lusi and I had to give her one last kiss. It was the best part.”
Lyle was informed by doctors in 2012 that the leukemia had returned just days before Lusi, his first child, was due and he postponed chemotherapy treatments until after her birth so he could hold her.
Lyle got off to a solid start with a birdie at the par-5 second hole but started to slide when he bogeyed three consecutive, starting at the seventh. He rebounded with a scrambling par at No. 13 and back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes.
“After two holes the competitor came out,” said Lyle’s swing coach Sandy Jamieson.
Lyle’s round was a moving accomplishment considering the emotion on the first tee, which was ringed by family, friends and fans – many of whom were wearing specially made yellow hats with Lyle’s signature duck logo on them.
The 32-year-old said the hardest part of the week was going to be the opening tee shot because he wanted to show all the people who supported him through his two bouts with cancer that he could play golf again at the highest level.
“It was amazing,” said Geoff Ogilvy, who was paired with Lyle on Thursday at Royal Melbourne. “Two years ago at the Presidents Cup (at Royal Melbourne) it was incredible, but this was more moving. It’s more intimate because everyone feels like they are part of the whole story.”
His 1-over card put Lyle well within the projected cut, which was his ultimate goal beginning the week.
“I want to stand on the 18th green (on Sunday) and say, ‘I played four days, how bloody good is that?’” Lyle said.