World Cup representative Marc Leishman believes a day dedicated each summer to the memory of Jarrod Lyle could grow to rival that of cricket’s Sydney ‘Pink Test’ as players and fans prepare to flood RACV Royal Pines Resort with a sea of yellow for Thursday’s opening round of the Australian PGA Championship.
Leishman and World Cup teammate Cameron Smith made a special appearance at Royal Pines on Monday to try to raise money for Challenge – the cancer support network that became synonymous with Lyle’s battle with leukaemia – by hitting targets worth $500, $1,000 and $2,000.
After a quick calibration and change of clubs – Leishman used 4-iron and Smith 5-iron to a target some 130 metres away – both took three shots each but missed narrowly on each occasion, sponsor Tag Heuer donating $5,000 to Challenge on their behalf.
Since his passing in August, the golf community worldwide has rallied to support Lyle’s wife Briony and their two daughters and that will continue throughout the week at the Australian PGA Championship.
Thursday in particular will hold special significance and in the same way the Sydney cricket Test has become the ‘Pink Test’ in support of the McGrath Foundation and breast cancer research, Leishman sees no reason why a day each summer can’t be turned yellow to continue Lyle’s legacy and support children fighting cancer.
“We could definitely do something like that,” Leishman said.
“Obviously what happened to Jane McGrath was terrible and the Sydney Test match and all of Australian cricket supports the McGrath Foundation so there’s no reason why we can’t do that. I think it’s going to get bigger and better every year.
“It’s just nice to keep Jarrod in our memory, to keep Briony and their girls in our thoughts and help them however they need it. This is a very good start and it would be nice if we could raise some more money for a great cause. It could get pretty big and raise a lot of money for Challenge.”
Honouring Lyle in such a way has the support of Challenge chief executive David Rogers who, after forming a close bond with Lyle throughout his journey, has now taken it upon himself to ensure one of Australian golf’s most beloved figures is never forgotten.
“When he came back to golf the second time he was surprised at the level of support he received because he would say that he was ‘just a golfer’. But he was so much more than that,” Rogers said.
“It’s incumbent upon me to make sure that Jarrod’s mark continues and we actively promote his legacy of always wanting to find ways to help people. I now need to walk and talk some of hat the big man did and continue to make sure that he’s not forgotten.”
The ‘Lyle Mile’ that has been running for the past two weeks will culminate at the par-5 third this week and fans will be able to purchase merchandise from the Leuk the Duck tent set up in the tournament village near the practice putting green.
Caught short without a yellow shirt on this trip back to Australia, Leishman will sport a Leuk the Duck pin in his cap again this week as he has done each time he has played since his friend’s passing.
“We only found out about it a week ago so I unfortunately don’t have any yellow,” Leishman explained. “It’s only because I don’t have any (yellow shirts), it’s not that I’m choosing not to wear it. I’ll wear a shirt with a yellow logo on it from last week.
“I was great friends with Jarrod and it is nice to be able to support a cause that he was so close with and meant so much to him.”