Jarrod Lyle shot a 4-under 67 on Thursday in the Web.com Tour’s Midwest Classic, the Australian’s first U.S. event since his second bout with leukemia.
"I think the most surprising thing was my focus," Lyle said. "People talk about a game face and I was ready to go on the first tee. I think that shows that it’s all starting to come back for me."
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Traveling with wife Briony and 2-year-old daughter Lusi, the 32-year-old Lyle had four front-nine birdies in his bogey-free round at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. He was three strokes behind leader Paul Haley II.
"My only goal was to play for four days," Lyle said. "That’s pretty much all I came here to do. It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be at the start of the week."
Lyle hit eight greens on the back nine, but missed an 8-footer for birdie on No. 16 and a 6-foot birdie try on 18.
"I’m just putting it down to rust," Lyle said. "It’s just one of those things when you haven’t played in a long time you start seeing things on the greens that aren’t there or you don’t see things that are there."
Lyle also is set to play Web.com Tour events Aug. 7-10 in Springfield, Missouri, and Aug. 14-17 in Knoxville, Tennessee. When Lyle returns to the PGA Tour for the start of the season in October, he will have 20 events to earn $283,825 and reach the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list in 2012, the year he suffered a recurrence.
Lyle returned to play in November in the Australian Masters and played in the Victorian Open near his hometown in February.