For Australia’s band of PGA professionals, this one’s personal.
Ever since the passing of Jarrod Lyle in August this year, there has been an outpouring of grief and support throughout the worldwide golfing community.
The game’s biggest names shared their favourite stories of one of the game’s most favourite characters and wore with pride the Leuk the Duck merchandise for which Lyle became synonymous during his battle with leukaemia.
But it is the first round of the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort where Lyle’s colleagues and countrymen will stand together as one in remembrance of a great golfer and an even better bloke.
The fairways of Royal Pines will be transformed into a sea of yellow as both players, caddies and spectators pay their respects with a simple clothing choice and for those who shared the locker room with Lyle it will stand as a day unlike any other.
Just this week Robert Allenby’s annual charity day in Melbourne passed $40 million in funds raised for Challenge that supported Lyle and thousands of other children battling cancer while Greg Chalmers and Marc Leishman both started charitable foundations after members of their immediate family were affected.
And that’s why, according to Chalmers, Thursday shapes as such an important occasion.
“It has a personal feel and that’s rare with charities,” Chalmers said.
“I run my own charity day for my charity at home and when it matters to you that’s what makes it real and important. That’s what tomorrow is for all of us as pros and those of us who knew Jarrod well.
“Even if you didn’t know him you only had to see how he interacted with people to understand what a quality human being he was.
“Tomorrow’s our chance to give back a little bit to all the other families that are struggling with this horrendous disease.”
Titleist players will wear commemorative yellow hats and shirts for the Australian PGA Championship’s opening round, merchandise that will be available for sale to the general public through the Challenge website.
Leuk the Duck merchandise will also be available for sale at the Royal Pines tournament village but more than anything Chalmers wants fans to wear yellow and join the show of solidarity by those within Australian golf.
“Titleist have gone to another level in helping to raise funds because Jarrod was a Titleist player and then every one of the players will be wearing yellow tomorrow. We want the fans to come out on Thursday and wear yellow as well,” said Chalmers, the 2011 and 2014 Australian PGA champion.
“Nobody ever met Jarrod and ever had a bad experience. I can’t say enough about him.
“One of my favourite things to say about him was that he was a better human being than he was a player… and he was a fabulous player.
“There’s a rare breed that can be wonderful golfers but also wonderful people and he was that.
“He is missed. I gave his wife a hug at the Australian Open a couple of weeks ago and I feel so sad for them that they have lost such a big part of their family.
“This is our opportunity to recognise how important this is and give back a little bit.”