Lyle memorial brings perspective to rowdy 16th hole at Waste Management Phoenix Open
February 02, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Hole in One
Jarrod Lyle aces No. 16 in 2011 Waste Management
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – There will be no glitzy ceremony. Jarrod Lyle wouldn’t have wanted that.
Instead, the 73 players who made the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open will quietly (sort of) pass by a makeshift tribute to Lyle on the normally rowdy 16th tee at TPC Scottsdale on Saturday. Lyle’s death last summer at 36 after a long battle with leukemia devastated the Australian golf community and others. For ballast and cheering up, they watched a video of his ace on 16 in the third round of the 2011 WMPO, a career highlight that seldom fails to bring a smile to anyone who sees it.
“When Jarrod passed, I just watched that video of him making the hole-in-one over and over again, like a lot of us did,” said WMPO Tournament Chairman Chance Cozby. “It just got me thinking about it and saying, OK, what can we do for Jarrod?”
Cozby, who in his day job handles player contracts for PING, called his friends at Titleist, who in short order sent a replica of Lyle’s golf bag with his clubs, including the 8-iron he used for the hole-in-one. Atop the bag would rest his signature yellow hat. Next to all that would be a temporary memorial marker: a yellow disc with the Australian flag and an inscription in memory of Lyle, and his most memorable shot.A temporary memorial marker in memory of Jarrod Lyle on the 16th tee at Waste Management Phoenix Open. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
The Thunderbirds, who run the tournament, set up the temporary memorial under cool, cloudy skies Saturday morning.
“We just wanted something for the guys who come through today,” Cozby said. “They can give it a little pat and remember Jarrod, and that this is just a game they’re playing.”
A big man with a matching sense of fun and mischief, Lyle was first diagnosed at 17. He fought through it and later turned pro, winning twice on the Web.com Tour and eventually reaching the pinnacle, the PGA TOUR. When the cancer came back, he beat it again. Finally, after it had returned a third time, his body had no more fight.
Lyle died during the PGA Championship in August, the news hitting players and others hard.
Rickie Fowler, the leader at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, was especially close to Lyle. They had recently spoken by phone to say goodbye, and Fowler wore yellow at the PGA at Bellerive to honor his friend. Others pinned yellow ribbons to their hats. Greg Chalmers tweeted, in part, “It is through a river of tears I say goodbye to my friend Jarrod Lyle.”
That sentiment was shared far and wide. Lyle left behind his wife, Briony, and two daughters, Lusi and Jemma, and players contributed financially in addition to offering their condolences.
“Thanks for your support, it meant the world,” Lyle said in his final message, shared by his wife after his death. “My time was short, but if I’ve helped people think and act on behalf of those families who suffer through cancer, hopefully it wasn’t wasted.”
The final threesome of Fowler, Justin Thomas and Branden Grace came through 16 late in the afternoon. It was loud and crazy, but also poignant as players remember big, happy Jarrod Lyle hitting the shot of his life.Rickie Fowler pays his respect on Saturday at TPC Scottsdale. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)