Jarrod Lyle news hits hard
Heavy hearts, tears, and continued donations from players, others at PGA Championship
August 09, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler comments after Round 1 of the PGA Championship
Editor's note: Contributions can be made via GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/jarrod-lyles-girls. These funds are intended to be rolled into a trust for Jarrod’s daughters, Lusi and Jemma.
ST. LOUIS – Rickie Fowler had just shot a 5-under 65 to take the early lead at the 100th PGA Championship, but he bowed his head as his eyes welled with tears.
Jason Day got so emotional he had to stop himself during his post-round press conference following his 3-under 67.
It was that kind of day at Bellerive as players, fans and others here and around the world continued to react with condolences, donations and grief. Jarrod Lyle, the affable Australian golfer who won twice on the Web.com Tour on the way to an unlikely career on the PGA TOUR, died at age 36 on Wednesday after battling leukemia for half his life.
“I was scripted to wear some sort of dark blue shirt,” said Fowler, who changed tops in honor of Lyle, known for his signature yellow bucket hat. “So luckily I had a version of yellowish. Yeah, it was tough news yesterday. So definitely happy that we could be here and supporting Jarrod. It's been a tough few weeks, especially talking with guys that were also close with Jarrod.”
Former PGA of America employee Erica Stoll, now married to Rory McIlroy, was among those who put together yellow ribbons in the media center Thursday morning.
Lyle, who was first diagnosed at 17, left behind his wife, Briony, and two daughters, Lusi and Jemma. Players have reacted with donations and messages of support to the family, the current GoFundMe campaign continuing a fundraising effort that began this year as Lyle battled leukemia for the third time. The January for Jarrod campaign, through youcaring.com, included contributions from many players (Hideki Matsuyama, for instance, donated $50,000) and others in the golf world, as well as donations from the public, with the current total reaching beyond $267,000.
The fundraising effort for the family ramped up with the news last week that Lyle’s body, ravaged by years of fighting the disease, was no longer responding to treatment and he would be going into hospice care at his home in Victoria.
At last week’s Barracuda Championship, young fellow Australian pro Grant Booth won a $50,000 bonus for playing the 18th hole the best over the four days, a stipend that was to be split two ways, half going to Reno-area charities and half to a charity of Booth’s choice, the Lyle family.
Earlier this week, Bryson DeChambeau won $25,000 for charity for winning the long-drive contest at Bellerive, and also directed the money to the Lyle family.
“The story, it’s so sad,” DeChambeau said. “His kids are suffering, obviously. The whole family is. I thought it’d be the right thing to give it to Lusi and Jemma. They deserve that more than anything right now.”
The Tiger Woods Foundation announced a $10,000 contribution. Several others have stepped up anonymously. Donations continue to come in to the Lyle Children’s Family Trust.
“I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando,” said Day, among the numerous Australian golfers who were tight with Lyle. “He's a good buddy of mine. It's obviously heartbreaking to see. I've known Jarrod for a long time, and, obviously, my thoughts and prayers go out to Bri and the two kids.”
Day and others consoled one another as they reminisced about a fun-loving big man with a big game. He was also a fighter, Day noted, beating back the disease three times. Some, like Day and Adam Scott, knew him well. Others met him in passing, and others still knew him only through stories.
“Even guys that didn’t know him, hadn’t met him, they never heard anything but good things,” Fowler said. “The legend of Jarrod lives on.
“I played quite a bit with him my first few years out on TOUR,” Fowler added, “and I loved how he was so kind of free-spirited and fun-loving. It didn’t really matter how his day was going or how he was playing, he was always happy or was going to try to make your day better. He wasn’t too worried about himself. He was just a fun guy to be around.”
Fowler recalled how much it had meant to him to be in Australia for the World Cup and get to play in the benefit tournament for Challenge, the organization supporting kids with cancer fronted by Lyle and friend and fellow TOUR pro Robert Allenby. Lyle was always doing for others; it was nice to do something for him, Fowler said at Bellerive, where he wore a pin of Leuk the Duck, the Challenge mascot, front and center on his cap Thursday.
The news of Lyle’s passing hit him especially hard in part because he’d just spoken to him.
“I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him last Friday, so one thing that did help is hearing kind of from him how he felt,” Fowler said. “He sounded like he was in a good spot. … It's been fun to be thinking about him while we're out there playing, because he would probably be the one to kind of kick you in the butt if you started feeling sad or bad, he would kind of give you a hard time and tell you to man up or something along those lines. Maybe not those same words.
“It's been enjoyable celebrating his life,” he added, “and we'll continue to do that.”