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November 12 2013

12:42 PM

Lyle starts comeback at Aussie Masters

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Jarrod Lyle, his wife Briony and daughter Lusi walk the course at Royal Melbourne earlier this month.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

He told his friends to be sure to come to Royal Melbourne on Thursday and Friday -- just in case.

Whether Jarrod Lyle makes the cut at the Australian Masters this week or not, though, he'll be a winner. It's his first tournament since the affable Aussie was diagnosed with a recurrance of acute myeloid leukemia in 2012.

"I want to do as well as I can but if I miss the cut by 20 shots, I don't care, it's just me getting out there again and showing I can do this," Lyle told "The Age."

He was first diagnosed with leukemia and treated in 1999 when he was 17, spending nine months in bed. The disease went into remission and Lyle came to the United States to play golf -- winning twice on the Web.com Tour and earning his PGA TOUR card.

But the disease returned in March of 2012. Lyle had to withdraw from The Honda Classic after a bug bite became infected and doctors found the leukemia was back. He went home to Australia to undergo chemotherapy -- but delayed the treatment by two days so he could be there when his wife Briony delivered their first child, a daughter named Lusi.

His wife later shaved her own head when the chemotherapy caused Lyle to lose his hair. "She has been my rock," the 32-year-old Lyle told "The Age."

In May, 2012 doctors said the disease was once again in remission after two rounds of chemo. The following month, Lyle had an umbilical-cord blood transplant from a young German girl.

"I think I'm ahead of it, I'm trying to outrun it," Lyle told the Grandstand. "So hopefully I can stay ahead of it for a few more years yet."

This past February, Lyle finally felt strong enough to play nine holes. He shot even par.

"The swing didn't feel as though it had deteriorated at all," he said to "The Age." "It was kind of nice to know I wasn't completely useless."

Lyle, who has played golf four days in a row several times since doctors gave him the all-clear in June, hopes that the Australian Masters will be the start of a successful comeback. He is eligible to play the PGA TOUR on a major medical extention that gives him 20 events to earn $283,825, which, coupled with 2012 earnings of $363,685 would equal No. 125 from the 2012 money list.

"Obviously with me starting my comeback now, it's really given me that light at the end of the tunnel to focus on," Lyle told Grandstand in Australia. "I'm looking forward to the hours and hours I've got to spend out on the range and the chipping green and the putting green to get myself and my golf game back to where it was.

"It's going to take me a long time to get back there, I'm a long way off it right now, there's still a lot of rust in the golf game that needs to get out before I can go back to the TOUR.

"But the challenge is there - I've just got to work out how to get myself back there."

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