Laid-back Lyle in lead at Australian Open
Jarrod Lyle lost his U.S. PGA Tour card after a very mediocre
season. Off the course, and in the good news department, he’s
engaged to a woman from his Australian hometown who is pregnant –
surprisingly, he says – with their first child.
So the genial Lyle, who often calls himself the ”Big Unit,”
wasn’t getting overly excited about a 7-under-par 65 Thursday that
gave him a one-stroke lead at the Australian Open at The Lakes,
even if it was his best round of the year.
”I don’t turn up to a golf course with a number in mind, of
what I have to shoot or what I want to shoot,” Lyle said. ”Golf
is that kind of game that you can shoot 65 or 85 and they are not
much different. I’ve played solid but have not really achieved
The Australian, who made the cut in only 12 of 29 tournaments
this year and had only one top-10 finish, will return to the United
States in two weeks to play the grueling six-round PGA Tour
qualifying school in an attempt to regain his card for 2012.
Lyle’s memory of the noisy Lakes course, that is under a flight
path for nearby Sydney airport and borders a traffic-clogged
freeway, is foggy – the one and only time he played it previously
was in a boozy charity golf day. And the course since has had a
”I can’t remember a lot about the golf course because there
were a few drinks involved,” Lyle said. ”I think the changes that
have happened out here are pretty cool. It makes it a more
links-style golf course and more wind affected. The wind that you
get here in Sydney is going to make it tough.”
Tough is what he’s expecting when he plays the final rounds of
the qualifying school at PGA West at La Quinta, California, from
Nov. 30 to Dec. 6. He didn’t have to go to the opening stages
because he’s in the top 10 on the Australasian tour’s Order of
”A lot of people have called it hell on earth, which it is,”
Lyle said. ”You can look back on the first day and one missed putt
can mean playing on the PGA Tour or playing on Nationwide. That’s
the reality of it.”
Last year in the same tournament, he finished fifth, and since
the top 25 get exempt cards, he was back with the big boys. But now
it’s back to Q-school.
”When you are trying to chase a certain number that gets higher
and higher each day, the pressure really builds up,” Lyle says.
”It is weird because after four days you still have two days to
go. It is something that your mind and body are not used to.”
Regardless of the difficulties he’s had on the golf course, and
the daunting task he faces at qualifying school, the rest of his
life has been excellent. His fiance, Briony, is from his hometown
of Shepparton, Victoria, and he was as surprised as anyone when
they found out she was pregnant.
Lyle spent nearly a year in hospital when he was 16 suffering
from leukemia and underwent numerous chemotherapy sessions.
”The pregnancy side of things is something I never knew could
happen – I was always told by my doctors that fertility could be an
issue after all the chemotherapy and stuff,” Lyle said.
”To hear that Briony was pregnant made golf seem insignificant.
Those bad days don’t affect you any more. I’ve got a little bub on
the way. I feel that nothing can really worry me now.”