The characteristic moment of Jarrod Lyle's very short PGA Tour career was the hole-in-one he made during the 2011 Waste Management Phoenix Open. That joyful event will now be commemorated every year, thanks to a well thought-out gesture from tournament organizers.
Lyle died last year at 36 after having been fighting leukemia for almost 10 years. That is when Waste Management Phoenix Open Tournament Director Kans Cozby ran a plan to honor Lyle, as well as the others who made an ace at the famous 16th hole.
Cozby got the idea after seeing that the recording was repeated and heard broadcaster Jim Nantz telling how the hole-in-one was worth remembering. That pushed Cozby's spirit into action.
"Jim said he was surprised that they had done nothing on the 16th hole to commemorate his hole-in-one, and I started thinking about what we could do to honor Jarrod and celebrate him," said Cozby.
"His hole-in-one at our tournament was one of the moments in his career that was great, I felt like it was a natural fit and a good way to get a PGA Tour player and a friend we miss celebrate. "
A temporary memorial will be placed at number 16 during the third round of Saturday. There will be a replica of Lyle's Titleist staff bag filled with replica clubs, including the 8-iron that he used that morning. A yellow bucket hat, as Lyle wore later in his career, will be draped on top.
"Every player will walk on the tee Saturday and see that monument and see his bag with the yellow bucket hat, and they can all have a quick moment for their friend and his family and celebrate him," said Cozby. ]
A round plaque, dyed yellow and with the Australian flag, is stationed nearby. The center of the marking reads: "In memory of Jarrod Lyle." Engraved around the edge are the words: "Hole-in-one, Saturday, February 5, 2011, 9:16 am, 150 yards, 8 iron.Rest in peace."
& # 39; We wanted to keep it simple, & # 39; explained Cozby. "We wanted to go with his color, bright yellow, and just put the facts on it."
A permanent marker will also be placed on the tee to honor everyone who defied the chances – reinforced by the pressure of 30,000 fans – by making a hole-in-one. Only nine have been made in the hole, including Hal Sutton, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods.
"We wanted a permanent fixture there to celebrate all holes-in-one," said Cozby. "So, while the permanent structure is not all about Jarrod, he is definitely a piece of it."
Lyle, the popular, Australian, only came into the field that year as a replacement after Harrison Frazar retired. Lyle completed his second round that morning, as the tournament was delayed by icy conditions and would not end until Monday.
He wore a light green shirt and a darker green Titleist hat on the memorable day. He pulled his 8-iron and aimed. Lyle knew he had beaten very well from a small whirlpool at the finish and gestured with his hands that the ball had to go down. It did. The ball hit the green, took a big hop, a smaller hops and a short roll in the cup.
Afterwards Lyle said: "It was perfect number for me, just a little bit of an 8-iron … When it landed, I thought:" Wow, this is pretty good. "
Lyle tried not to be cool in the moment. He raised both arms in triumph, high-fived playing partners Ben Martin and Troy Kelly and looked back in the direction of the insane gallery for extra adulation. He enjoyed the animated walk to the green, and when he plucked the ball from the cup, he gave the crowd another green fist pump before he walked away.
"I did not know how to respond," said Lyle, who shot 67 that day. "I had never had a hole-in-one as a professional, and to do it on the 16th that Phoenix is pretty special … I probably went through there, but it's one of those things where the crowds you little bit, and I also tried to stimulate the crowd a bit, it was an incredible feeling. "
Doctors diagnosed Lyle with leukemia when he was 17, and he had been fighting for more than twenty years. He defeated the illness the first time and earned his PGA Tour card in 2007 and then won twice the next season during the Web.com Tour. The cancer returned in 2012, but he again defeated and played 42 tournaments.
A repeat was diagnosed in 2017, and Lyle fought bravely for a year, even with tolerating a bone marrow transplant, before deciding to terminate treatment and begin palliative care. He died on 8 August 2018.
Phoenix is the newest event to do something special as a memorial for Lyle. Officials from the Wyndham Championship last year, the last PGA Tour event he participated in, created in 2016 a display on the first tee in honor of the resident of Shepparton. Players and caddies received yellow hats, and many chose to wear them during the tournament.
Players wore yellow for his honor during the subsequent World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. Rickie Fowler even changed his wardrobe to wear a bright yellow shirt during the PGA championship in honor of Lyle and then cried after the round when he talked about his friend. Players have contributed en masse to a fund set up to provide Lyle & # 39; s two young daughters.
The memories take place this week outside of Phoenix, where his most famous shot was struck. The memories will probably not end there.
"He was just one of those Tour players that everyone liked," said Cozby. "He is missed, and this is a very small way to celebrate him."