Jarrod Lyle has displayed his trademark fighting qualities to qualify in a playoff for the US PGA Tour season opener after tournament organisers failed to offer a sponsor invite.
Returning to the tour for the 2014-15 season after beating leukaemia for the second time, Lyle was widely expected to be afforded a sponsor’s invite to the Frys广西桑拿, Open in Napa, California, but he was controversially overlooked.
Rather than just pack it in and wait for next week, when sponsors of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas have already ensured Lyle will get a start, the Victorian travelled to Napa, shot six-under 66 in Monday’s qualifying and then survived an eight-man playoff for four spots to get in.
It is another small chapter in an inspiring journey for the 32-year-old Victorian.
When forced by illness to leave the tour during the 2012 season Lyle had won $363,685 ($A415,997) meaning he will have to earn $283,825 ($A324,123) in 19 events to equal No.125 on the 2012 money list and earn a full tour card once more.
Players on medical exemptions often struggle to get into fields as they are extremely low on the priority list, leaving them to the mercy of sponsors.
“I was disappointed not to get an invite, mostly because they didn’t even let me know. We just had to wait until the field was finalised on Friday,” Lyle told AAP.
“I understand invites are hard to get and plenty of worthy players want them but it was a shame they didn’t at least let us know.
“My wife Briony was pretty devastated but I told her I had a chance to qualify and what better way to stick it to them. Thankfully I was able to get it done.”
Lyle says the experience has further steeled him for the season ahead.
“I am now really looking forward to Thursday and hopefully I can kick start the season in style.”
Fellow Australians Mat Goggin and Greg Chalmers were also part of the playoff on Monday with Goggin getting through to the tournament proper.
Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman and Cameron Percy round out the Australian tilt in the season opener.
Percy is the only ‘newcomer’ to the main tour in 2014-15 after graduating from the secondary tour.
It is the 40-year-old’s third trip to the big show after 2010 and 2013 while he also played on conditional status in 2011.
This time around he feels better equipped to cement himself.
Despite catching a stomach virus during the secondary tour playoffs and losing almost five kilograms Percy is back to full strength.
“I feel ready and this time around I have some extra confidence after winning on the web广西桑拿, tour this year,” Percy said.
“I have also got a new caddy who has been out here for years and years and he keeps me a lot calmer.
“In the past I maybe would dwell on some bad breaks too long but I am a lot calmer in dealing with these things.”