'He would kick you in the butt if you started feeling sad': Stars pay tribute to Jarrod Lyle

Golf News

Everybody had Jarrod Lyle on their mind as the PGA Championship got underway – and they did the Australian proud at Bellerive, writes Mark Townsend

At next week’s Wyndham Championship you can expect to see plenty of players tee it up in a yellow bucket hat in tribute to Jarrod Lyle.

The 36-year-old’s move into palliative care sparked a huge, and fitting, outpouring of love and financial support for the Australian’s family and his former PGA Tour colleagues had Lyle very much in their thoughts after he passed away on Wednesday night.

Players wore yellow ribbons at Bellerive to remember Lyle. The plan for Rickie Fowler had been to wear a dark blue shirt on Thursday, he then switched to yellow, in memory his friend.

“Especially last week and this week we’ve all been thinking about Jarrod a lot. So I was scripted to wear dark blue. That definitely immediately changed last night. Last week I had the [Leuka Duck] pin somewhere on the side. This is front and centre,” said Fowler who opened with a 65.

The American spoke to Lyle only last week and he explained that the horrific news helped him keep his round in perspective.

“One thing that did help is hearing kind of from him how he felt. He sounded like he was in a good spot. Obviously that’s not something that’s easy to deal with. And 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 to you man up or something along those lines. Maybe not those same words.

“It can help you. I feel like it takes your mind off of golf and trying to hit the shots. Being able to focus on the shot or what’s at hand, and then in between being able to think about Jarrod and family and everything they’re dealing with and the impact he’s had on everyone out here.”

Jarrod Lyle

Lyle’s countryman Jason Day also made a strong start, posting a 67, and he was understandably emotional when asked about Lyle.

“I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando. He’s a good buddy of mine. It’s obviously heartbreaking to see. I received a text about Jarrod, and you sit there and you know him and he’s a buddy of yours, and he’s not there anymore. He’s never going to come back. That’s the hardest thing to sort of come by. Now I’m tearing up.”

Of Lyle’s remarkable courage and lovely nature Day added: “He battled half his life. And the crazy thing is he was always upbeat and positive. No matter what you did, you could be playing terrible, and if you’re playing golf with him, you always walked off the course happy. For him to first get diagnosed with it when he was 17 years old and then battled three times, it just goes to show how much of a fighter he was inside to be able to keep pushing on even though it is painful to go through the stuff that he went through.”

Another player to be inspired by Lyle was Pat Perez who admitted that he didn’t even know him very well.

“I was on a mad rush out there, because they didn’t have [a yellow ribbon] on the tee. Find me a ribbon! And one of the media guys, he said, ‘You seem pretty adamant about it. You want it more than I do.’

“He gave me his, and I said, ‘Thank you.’ I put that on and I thought about him all day.

“Jarrod Lyle, poor Jarrod, that was what was on everybody’s mind today. I thought about him a lot, and I don’t even know him that well. I don’t even know him, and I felt terrible. The fact that he was married, has two kids, the fact they knew he was going to have trouble and the daughters have to go through life without him – I got choked up a couple times and I don’t even know the guy.”

Perez and his wife are set to start a family with a daughter due next month and, like any parent or just anyone with any compassion, he was struggling to comprehend the horrific news.

Pat Perez

“I was talking to my wife about it last night, and it’s got to be so horrible what they’re going through. I sat with Poulter at breakfast this morning and we were watching the deal on Morning Drive, you don’t even know what to say. It’s so horrible. I didn’t really know him, but I’d heard so many times that he was such a great guy.”

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