by Martin Parry
SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle has lost his battle with cancer, dying aged 36 after halting treatment for leukaemia last week, sparking an outpouring of grief from fellow players Thursday.
“It breaks my heart to tell everyone that Jarrod is no longer with us,” his wife Briony said in a statement.
The former US PGA Tour player, who had children aged six and two, passed away on Wednesday evening at his home outside Melbourne surrounded by family and friends.
“Lusi, Jemma and I are filled with grief and now must confront our lives without the greatest husband and father we could ever have wished for,” added his wife.
Lyle moved into palliative care on August 1 to see out his final days, saying his body could not “take anymore” after acute myeloid leukaemia returned for a third time.
His plight touched people around the world and his wife said the messages of support comforted him as his life drew to a close.
“Jarrod was able to take in many of the unbelievably kind and generous acts and words in his final few days and was overwhelmed by the emotional outpouring,” she said.
“He asked that I provide a simple message: ‘Thanks for your support, it meant the world. 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’.”
Lyle, who joined the PGA Tour in 2007 and managed a handful of top 10 finishes, overcame leukaemia as a 17-year-old before suffering a recurrence in 2012.
He won that battle and made his return to professional golf at the Australian Masters in November 2013. But his health deteriorated again in recent months.
In an emotional audio message late last week, he said he felt like “the luckiest golfer going around because so many people took an interest in me and took an interest in, I guess, my fight”.
He thanked his many “friends around the world, whether they’re spectators, whether they’re golfers, whether they’re marshals”.
“It’s going to be hard to leave that behind, but they know that I love them,” he said, breathing heavily. “They know that all the fighting that I did do was to get back out and play golf again.”
The European Tour was among many to pay tribute on Thursday.
“Full of joy and determination, on and off the course. This is how we’ll remember Jarrod,” it said.
World number three Justin Rose added: “Such a sad day, we will all miss you so much Jarrod. Thinking of his family at this time.”
Fellow Australian golfer Greg Chalmers was emotional.
“It is through a river of tears I say goodbye to my friend Jarrod Lyle. A wonderful father, friend and golfer. Quick with a joke, didn’t mind a beer, and just a pure joy to be around every day. Miss you mate. RIP,” he said.
Another Australian, the 2013 US Masters champion Adam Scott, last week hailed Lyle as “one of the best blokes there is”.
“He played such good golf while battling illness; he has been through it all,” he said.
“His positivity and general demeanour has been so good and so infectious on others. It’s a good way to think of how I should live my life.”
Many of Lyle’s friends and competitors from his playing days are getting ready for the year’s final major tournament, the PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Bellerive Golf Course in Missouri.
The winner of the traditional pre-tournament long drive competition, American golfer Bryson de Chambeau, pledged to donate his $25,000 charity winnings to Lyle’s family.