Lyle honored with first tee tribute at Wyndham ChampionshipThe last TOUR event Lyle played was the 2016 Wyndham Championship
August 16, 2018
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
In Memoriam: Jarrod Lyle
GREENSBORO, North Carolina – Cameron Percy almost did a double take before he teed off on Thursday. Aaron Baddeley had to reach in and get his smart phone out his golf bag.
“When I hit my tee shot I turned around and saw it and I was like oh, man, I've got to get a picture of that,” Baddeley said.
Sitting there on the first tee at Sedgefield Country Club were Jarrod Lyle’s golf bag, clubs and signature yellow bucket cap, a tribute to the popular Australian golfer who died last week after battling acute myeloid leukemia for 20 years.
“That was awesome,” Percy said. “I was about to hit off and I was like who's bag is that? And then I saw it and I said to Shane (Joel), who's an Australian caddy in my group, that was pretty cool, wasn't it, and he said, yeah, that was pretty cool. It was a nice touch.”
The last PGA TOUR event Lyle played was the 2016 Wyndham Championship, and tournament officials wanted to honor his memory this week. There are also two bags in the locker room for players to sign that will be auctioned off later with the total proceeds going to Lyle’s wife Briony and their two children.
Donations to the GoFundMe page, that has already exceeded its $200,000 goal may also be made on-site at The First Tee of the Triad’s tent on Expo Row at Sedgefield. The tournament is working with all of its constituents to raise $25,000 for the cause.
“These are sad days for the PGA TOUR family,” tournament director Mark Brazil said. “I knew Jarrod to be one of the kindest human beings on TOUR, and I know all the guys, especially the Australians, will really miss him.”A close-up look at the details of Lyle's signature bucket hat on the first tee at the Wyndham Championship. (Matt Brown/Wyndham Championship)
Earlier in the week, Percy, Baddeley and the rest of the Australian players and caddies got together at a local Outback Steakhouse – where else? – to remember their friend. Sung Kang’s caddy, Jason Shortall, organized the gathering.
“He sent out a big text message -- let's get the Aussie boys together and do something Jarrod would like,” Baddeley said.
A beer and a yellow bucket cap were at the head of the table as the tight-knit group of Aussies reminisced. Lyle’s former caddy, Mick Middlemo, even drove up from Atlanta, where he now manages a bar.
“He actually spoke to (Jarrod),” said Percy, who still had the yellow ribbon on his cap that he got at the Barracuda Championship when news broke that Lyle had entered palliative care. “And he said, look, he said to say thanks for everything everyone is doing.
“He said, I'm in a better place now. I've had a great life and I'm just so happy everyone's looking after my kids. It was really nice to hear.”
The PGA TOUR’s January for Jarrod drive and the GoFundMe page started by the Golf Channel’s Tripp Isenhour aren’t the only campaigns to raise money for Lyle’s family.
One of Percy’s friends, Craig Hutchison, owns SEN, a popular sports radio station in Australia. He called Percy a couple of weeks ago and said he wanted to hold a Jarrod Lyle Day. Percy helped supply some phone numbers and Hutchison took it from there.
“Famous sports stars say ok, you can come to the footy (soccer game) with me or I'll go play tennis and cricket and people bid on it,” Percy said. “They raised $178,000.
“That's one of the things Jarrod wanted Mick to tell us was, he said what you guys did there was unbelievable. So at least he knew the kids were going to be looked after. That was a big relief for him.”
The tribute to Lyle – who birdied the 18th hole at Sedgefield in his final round in 2016 -- on the first tee will remain throughout the Wyndham Championship.
Players have also been given yellow belts and bucket hats to wear this week. Yellow is the color of Challenge, the Australian charitable organization that supports kids with cancer.
The Wyndham Championship’s sand artists are also creating a likeness of Leuk the Duck, the Challenge logo, with the words: “In Memoriam: Jarrod Lyle