Jarrod Lyle

By Rex HoggardFebruary 10, 2014, 9:07 pm

SHEPPARTON, MELBOURNE – If, as philosophy professors claim, life is no more than a collection of moments large and small, Jarrod Lyle’s tale is one of emotional riches.

Lyle’s ride begins in a nondescript room on the third floor of the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital just before the turn of the century. Every day for nine months Lyle’s mother, Sally, would greet each morning and fill the room with the same simple question.

When I sat with Jarrod in the hospital for nine months the whole time I’d walk in and say, ‘Have you beaten it today?,’” said Sally Lyle, the prototypical matriarch of a strong Australian family. “And he would say, ‘Yes.’ That’s what we said every day for nine months.”

The battle raging within Jarrod’s body was far more merciless and menacing than anything he’d ever faced growing up on the playing fields of sleepy Shepparton. In 1999, at age 17, Lyle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

A few days earlier, Lyle had taken a fall playing football with some friends. A bruise almost immediately emerged on his shoulder and continued to grow. The next day as Sally was dropping Lyle, his brother Leighton, and sister Karly, off at school, Jarrod nearly passed out from the pain and the two rushed to see their local doctor.

It was the first glimpse of the helplessness and horror to come.

As I took my shirt off to show (the doctor) this bruise you could see something in his eye that sort of clicked and I thought that’s not a very good look in his eye,” Lyle recalled.

Before the sun set, Lyle and his family were on their way to Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital some 100 miles to the west where doctors confirmed the onset of leukemia and immediately began treatments.

The blow to the entire family was immediate. Lyle, described by family and friends as quiet and accommodating with a mischievous side, was already well over 6 feet tall and had easily taken to golf over cricket and football.

At 7 years old, Lyle would wait for his father, John, on the 15th tee at Shepparton Golf Club and would caddie down the stretch before heading back out onto the tree-lined layout with his father’s clubs.

He set the course record at “Shep” as a junior – a mark that was later bested by his brother Leighton – and was a regular on the country teams that make up the core of amateur golf in Australia. It was this love for the game that became his singular focus on May 13, 1999, as he made the long, silent drive to Melbourne to begin his nine-month bout with leukemia.

Predictably, fear set in following the initial diagnosis; Fear of the unknown; Fear of a disease that had just one connotation – death.

I burst into tears and thought I didn’t even really know what leukemia was,” Lyle said. “You associate cancer with death because it’s all you ever hear. You know, such and such died from cancer.”

But then Sally Lyle doesn’t tolerate negativity. If you’re not looking forward, you’re wasting valuable time and energy. It is a trait that likely led Jarrod to confide in John Lyle in the dark moments immediately following the initial diagnosis. “Why me?” Jarrod asked his father.

It was a moment of self-indulgent wallowing that would set the standard not just for the next nine months but for a lifetime filled with equal parts adversity and achievement.

That was probably the only time he said anything like that through the whole nine months of his treatment,” John Lyle said. “It was just one little instance and the rest of it was just he was looking forward to beating it.”

With time Jarrod’s resolve to win each day’s battle strengthened and within a month doctors had declared him “cancer free.” There were more debilitating bouts with chemotherapy and sleepless nights, but it was always golf that drove him to the next day, to the next battle.

Even while he endured the ravages of chemotherapy, Lyle not only continued to play but his game improved. He won a junior event while still in treatment and even represented his district in an annual “Country Week” event the day after a particularly debilitating bone marrow test and a lumbar puncture.

I actually dropped my handicap from 4 to 1 while I was in treatment,” Lyle boasted.

That singular devotion was nurtured even more when Lyle’s idol, four-time PGA Tour winner Robert Allenby, visited him in the hospital. When Allenby, who had been an ambassador for the Challenge support network for children with cancer, arrived announced Lyle’s reaction was priceless. “Oh shit,” Lyle stammered.

From that meeting a friendship was forged and Lyle’s drive was focused even more. Beating cancer was no longer the ultimate goal, replaced instead by a more profound desire to join Allenby on the PGA Tour one day.

Jarrod always had a good swing,” Allenby said. “But he had a mind that was the strongest part of his game and because of what he had gone through with the cancer that enabled him to have a strength that could make him not just a good golfer but a great golfer.”

For nine months Sally Lyle’s daily message gave her son a reason to remain resolute, but it was the 17-year-old’s desire to continue down a suddenly clear path, an avenue that would ultimately lead him to the game’s grandest stage, that made each day worth fighting.

His love of the game came out of that and every chance he got he was out here at the golf course playing and practicing and doing those sorts of things,” John Lyle recalled.

He wanted to win each day not for the sake of the victory, but for the chance to fulfill his dream of playing on Tour. It was a distinction and a direction that would ultimately define all the moments to come.

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Fleetwood fires 63, waits to see if score is enough

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 8:52 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tommy Fleetwood became the sixth player to shoot 63 at the U.S. Open, and just the second to do it in the final round. Now he waits.

Fleetwood teed off almost 2 ½ hours before – and six strokes behind – the leaders at Shinnecock Hills on Sunday, but stormed into the hunt thanks to four consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole. The Englishman’s round was even more impressive considering he didn’t birdie either of the layout’s par 5s.


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Fleetwood finished at 2 over par – after missing a 9-foot putt for birdie and 62 at the 18th – which was tied for second place and one stroke off the lead held by Brooks Koepka when he completed his round.

After speaking with the media, Fleetwood went to the locker room to await a possible playoff, which was changed this year from an 18-hole overtime to just two holes of aggregate play.

“We'll go and relax a little bit and just see,” said Fleetwood, who rolled in 159 feet of birdies putts. “Only time will tell what's going to happen today at the course. If it was like yesterday, I'd feel a little more comfortable than now.”

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Fowler follows 84 with 65, praises Shinnecock setup

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 5:44 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – As promised, the USGA dialed back Shinnecock Hills for Sunday’s final round, watering the greens overnight and deferring to more user-friendly hole locations.

The evidence of this was on the leaderboard, with four early finishers having shot under-par rounds, including Rickie Fowler, who closed with a round-of-the-week 65. There were just three under-par cards on Saturday.

“That's the golf course I enjoy playing. Obviously, pin placements were a lot safer,” said Fowler, who had just one bogey on Sunday and opened his day with a 4-under 31 on his opening nine. “The pins today will definitely allow for the greens to firm up and get fast, and we'll see how much they dry out. It was definitely more receptive this morning than yesterday, that's for sure.”


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It was a 19-stroke turnaround for Fowler, who ballooned to a third-round 84 on Day 3 during what most contend were the week’s toughest conditions. Fowler had put himself into contention going into the weekend thanks to a second-round 69, but struggled on Saturday afternoon like much of the field.

Fowler said the setup was vastly different to what players faced on Saturday and that even if the winds increase for the afternoon tee times the course will remain playable, unlike Round 3 when many players said the USGA “lost” the golf course.

“They did a good job of staying safe,” Fowler said, “because if it does dry out, it will still be very playable.”

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Phil celebrates par on 13, ducks media after round

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 5:35 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson didn’t have another meltdown at the U.S. Open.

Back on the 13th green Sunday – less than 24 hours after taking a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball and recording a sextuple-bogey 10 – Mickelson poured in a 10-footer and raised his arms in mock triumph, as if he’d finally won that elusive major title.

Not quite.

He’d simply made par.

“It looked like he won the Masters,” said playing partner Rickie Fowler. “He didn’t jump, but he had a little celebration there.”


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The par save and the final-round 69 were one of the lone bright spots during what was an adventurous week for Lefty, even by his unpredictable standards. Mickelson’s shocking swat was still the talk of this Open, especially after USGA executive director Mike Davis revealed Saturday night that Mickelson had called him to ask for more clarification on the rule he said that he knew he’d broken.

Despite some calls for him to withdraw from the tournament, Mickelson displayed his usual cheerful demeanor inside the ropes with Fowler.

“He joked about it right as we went down the first hole,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that he didn’t know “if I would have had the wits like Phil to run after it” on 13, but added that it never should have come to that in the first place.

“He could have saved himself a shot by just letting it go and taking unplayable, but then that would still look pretty funny too,” he said. “The course shouldn’t play that way.”

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

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USGA slows greens, alters hole locations for Sunday

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 3:29 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – After admitting that it went too far with the setup Saturday at the U.S. Open, USGA officials made some modifications for the final round.

In a statement released Sunday morning, the USGA said that it watered Shinnecock Hills’ greens an “appropriate level” and slowed down the surfaces nearly a foot on the Stimpmeter.


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That was in anticipation of a sunny, dry forecast that calls for temperatures to reach 80 degrees and wind gusts up to 20 mph.

They said the setup for the final day is similar to what was used in Round 1, when officials braced for 30-mph winds.

Some of the hole locations were also adjusted based on the forecast – changes, the USGA said, that were meant to “maintain a challenge yet fair U.S. Open test.”