19 Feb 2022 | Feature stories |

'He made you happy': Stars share their favourite Lyle memories

by PGA of Australia

Jarrod Lyle laughing.

By Tony Webeck

For all the pain that he endured in his own life, the joy that he brought to all of those around him will be Jarrod Lyle’s greatest legacy.

Cobram Barooga Golf Club will be a sea of yellow on Saturday as the TPS Murray River in honour of Jarrod Lyle does just that, some of those closest to Jarrod sharing the favourite moments of a life cut too short in 2018 when the leukaemia he first developed as a 17-year-old returned for a third time.

From the moment Lyle almost stole away the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 2005, his story of a rare golf talent forced to fight through one of life’s most difficult struggles endeared him to golf fans the world over.

The way he went about it made him an instant best friend to those who he touched.

His ability on the golf course was unquestioned; you don’t get to the PGA TOUR without it.

But his impact was felt at a far deeper level by those he shared the fairways with.

“Just bumping into him was a pleasure,” says two-time Australian Open and Australian PGA champion Greg Chalmers.

“He made you happy and that to me is a very important legacy.

“What he achieved and what he did given what he had been through was unbelievable but who he was as a man was way more important.

“He had an energy about him that you could almost see. He got what was important in life.

“Given what he’d been through, he looked like he loved every single moment. He exuded that. You could feel it. You could see it in how he treated people and how he spoke to people.

“We can all aspire to be great golfers but to be a great person is way more important and Jarrod ticked that box.

“Every time I think of him I smile, and I think we all should.”

As he forges his path into the top 50 golfers on the planet, Lucas Herbert continues to sport the Leuk the Duck logo that represents Challenge and which has become synonymous with Lyle’s life.

Challenge came into Lyle’s life when he was battling leukaemia for the first time and his impact and what he represented continues to be crucial in fundraising initiatives to help more kids battling cancer.

It was when Lyle was manning the Challenge merchandise tent at the 2017 Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney just nine months before his passing that Herbert, a fellow product of regional Victorian golf, shared a moment that he carries with him to this day.

“I was doing some chipping getting ready for the event and Jarrod was in selling all the Leuk the Duck gear in one of the tents just to the side of the chipping green,” Herbert recalls.

“He came over and picked up my wedge and started chipping around with me and we had some good chats about golf and life.

“He was about to go back in for some more treatment but it was such a good memory because we all had such high hopes for him at the time.

“He was such a genuine, great guy. There should be more people in the world like Jarrod. He never took himself too seriously and that’s what we could all do with a little bit more.”

For TV and radio personality Andy Lee, Lyle was a source of advice on all aspects of golf.

When he sought swing tips the instruction that came from the other end of the phone was always the same – “Just effing hit it!” – and any rules disputes he had with his friends highlighted just how much Lyle’s mates meant to him.

“He didn’t sign up for this but if I was ever arguing with a mate over a rule on the golf course I’d always call him,” Lee reflects.

“No matter where he was in the world he would pick up the phone and first say to me, as I was explaining to him what was going on, ‘What do you want me to say?’

“It normally worked out pretty well for me.

“He was a fighter. Huge love of sport. Huge love of friendship and an even bigger love of family. He knew what was important.”

Few know Lyle’s journey in golf and life better than Robert Allenby.

An ambassador for Challenge when Lyle was first admitted to hospital, Allenby was brought in to brighten the day of a young golfer with big dreams.

The pair formed an instant bond that would make them inextricably linked for the rest of their lives and which Allenby treasures.

“The amount of times that we cried on each other’s shoulders… Jarrod was one of the best guys you will ever meet. The greatest guy ever,” says Allenby.

“His charisma, his determination, his will to fight was just amazing. We can’t fathom that, because most people in the world haven’t gone through what Jarrod had to go through throughout his life but he was such an amazing character and every single time Jarrod always had a smile on his face.

“It showed the type of person that he was deep down inside. He loved his wife, Briony, he loved his kids and he loved his mates. He loved to have a beer with everyone.

“He was the best.”

The final two rounds of the TPS Murray River in honour of Jarrod Lyle will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo Freebies. Saturday’s third round begins at 2.30pm AEDT and Sunday’s final round broadcast beings at 12.30pm.

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