Victorian cancer survivor Jarrod Lyle has declared himself happy and in form after returning to competition following another bout with the disease.
Lyle blasted his way back on tour with a share of 11th in the Midwest Classic in Kansas. He finished 11 under the card with compatriots Steve Allan and Rod Pampling.
Aron Price was the highest placed Australian tied for sixth at 12 under, seven off the pace set by Zack Sucher.
Lyle said midway through his comeback tournament his play was "close to being really good.”
"It’s something to build on," he said. "It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be at the start of the week."
But he admitted the journey back had not been an easy one after his long spell on the sidelines.
"It has been very tough but I’ve had a lot of support behind me through every Tour in the world. Friends, family and everybody got behind me and helped push me along to get back to this point.
"I’m lucky I can still stand here and play golf again. I want to make the most of the second opportunity, almost my third opportunity I’ve had now at playing golf and try to do as good as I can," he said.
"I think it was my wife and my daughter that gave me that little bit of an edge that I needed to keep fighting. It’s nice to have this career to fall back on. I always said through my treatment that if I never hit another golf shot I could walk away from the game and be happy."
"I wasn’t going to live or die by playing golf. I live and die by my family."
Despite shooting four rounds under 70, Lyle said he was delighted to be playing what he called "boring golf."
"Boring golf is good. I don’t mind boring golf. Fairways and greens. If you keep making pars you’re not going to do yourself any harm.
"I’m happy with where my golf game is at. It’s nice to see some good shots and some reward for the work I’ve been putting in.
"I think the most surprising thing was my focus. People talk about a game face and I felt like I was ready to go on the first tee. It took me six or seven holes at the (Australian) Masters last year but today I was ready on the first tee. I think that shows that it’s all starting to come back for me."
He said his only goal at the start of the week was to play four days.
"That’s pretty much all I came here to do. I just want to get as many rounds in as I can in these three tournaments to see how I go after four days, how I go after a week, how I go after two weeks of golf."
Physically Lyle said he was well but needed to build on his fitness.
"I feel fine. The fitness and stuff is feeling really good. It’s just a matter of getting as many miles into the legs as I can and shots into the body as I can and see how I pull up.
"Last November at the Masters it was definitely the legs but I’ve done a bit of work since then to alleviate that issue."
Lyle was given a confidence boost earlier in the tournament with a string of birdies and pars and very few mistakes.
"It was nice to go out there and not put myself in too much pressure and the only real bad shot I hit was a wedge (on the sixth hole). That was horrendous and wound up in the worst possible spot and still got it up and down for par. It’s nice to do those things – it shows there’s still a bit of fight left in you."
He was also given constant encouragement by the sight of his wife Briony and daughter Lusi on the course.
"It’s great. For some reason I can spot her from miles away and as soon as she sees you she’s waving at you and I’m waving back. Then you get the double-handed wave. It’s exciting. It means the world to me to have them both here and supporting me in my golf again. I’ll do anything for those two."
By: Robert Grant