By Patti Putnicki
Professional golfers are used to fighting back—from bad shots, missed cuts and all of the other challenges that come with being on tour. Then, there is Jarrod Lyle, the winner of this year’s PGA Tour Courage Award. Lyle, an Australia native, has overcome two battles with acute myeloid leukemia in his lifetime, and is currently in the second year of a Medical Extension. Yet, he keeps on fighting for his place on the leaderboard.
Lyle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2012, his fifth season on tour. At the time of the diagnosis, his wife, Briony, was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Lusi, who was born just a few days later. This was Lyle’s second bout with this disease, having been confined to bed for nine months while undergoing chemotherapy in 1999, when he was just 17 years old.
Still, he never gave up. After chemotherapy, a double umbilical cord blood transplant and rehabilitation, Lyle made a comeback in December 2013 at the Talisker Masters in his native Australia. He then returned to the PGA Tour at the 2014 Frys.com Open, where he finished tied for 31st, and has made 11 subsequent starts. He enters 2016 with eight events remaining in his Medical Extension—and a positive, fighting spirit that inspires fellow players and tour organizers alike.
The Courage Award, which includes a $25,000 charitable contribution to the recipient’s charity of choice, was awarded at the inaugural Greg Norman Gold Medal Dinner on the eve of the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
“Jarrod is a story of great perseverance and courage in the face of adversity,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. “To battle and overcome leukemia twice is a statement unto itself as to his character. But, he has also made a significant impression on all of us with his determination to reclaim his career as a professional golfer.”
Lyle will be donating his $25,000 prize to Challenge-Supporting Kids with Cancer, an Australian non-profit organization that delivers daily support to children and families living with cancer. He serves as an ambassador for the organization, which has helped more than 25,000 children and families since its founding.
As for Lyle, he is ready to keep on fighting.
“It has taken a lot of fighting for me to get back to the PGA Tour, but it has been well worth it. For me to get back after the things I have dealt with shows people in similar situations that there is hope for them and, if they stay positive and fight for every day, they can succeed in life,” Lyle said. “To be back playing with all the guys again and saying thank you was very important to me. The players, officials and fans of the PGA Tour have been extremely supportive of me and my family, and I can never repay them for that.”
Nor can we repay you for the inspiration, Jarrod.