Robert Allenby knew in December that this time was different.
Having stood alongside Jarrod Lyle for the best part of two decades as he waged two separate wars against acute myeloid leukaemia, Allenby saw a sense of foreboding in his great mate that scared him.
He had defied this insidious disease twice before to first reach the pinnacle of world golf and then bring two beautiful daughters into the world with wife Briony and was now being asked to summon the strength to go to war for a third time.
On Tuesday night Briony shared the heartbreaking message that Jarrod would be discontinuing active treatment and enter palliative care so that he could share his precious remaining days with her and their two daughters, Lusi and Jemma, in the relative comfort of home, its significance encapsulated in the heart-wrenching photo of his girls with daddy in his hospital bed.
On Thursday all players teeing it up in the Fiji International at Natadola Bay will wear ‘Leuk the Duck’ badges in support of Jarrod and the Lyle family but it is now clear that the miracle the golf world believed its collective strength could conjure will instead tragically elude us.
The reality that was masked by Jarrod’s ever-present and infectious smile has now delivered such a crushing blow to us all that may we never forget the impact he has had on our lives and the lessons he will inevitably leave us with.
“Given all the difficulties he's had since his late teens, he has lived the best life he could with the tough cards he has been dealt,” Adam Scott told AAP from this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"His positivity and general demeanour has been so good and so infectious on others; it's a good way to think of how I should live my life.
"It shouldn't have to have something like this to remember that's what it's all about."
"It's been a hard road for Jarrod for so long, and he has fought so hard,” added Marc Leishman.
PGA of Australia CEO joined the chorus of support for the Lyle family.
“The news this morning that Jarrod Lyle has entered palliative care has deeply affected the Australian and world golf industries," said Kirkman.
"Jarrod is an incredible man who has a special place in all of our hearts.
"For many of us, the way Jarrod lives his life, celebrating the joy of his family and fighting his battles with such tenacity, has been an inspiration for our own personal struggles.
"When I think of Jarrod the words kind, generous, courageous, talented and inspirational come to mind.
"He embodied all these traits during his golf career, his battles with Leukaemia and in the way he approaches everything in life.
"We send our thoughts and prayers to Jarrod, Brioney, Lusi and Jemma.”
A Shepparton junior whose obvious talents saw him lured to Melbourne to play pennants for Commonwealth Golf Club, Lyle’s progression to the professional ranks was halted in 1998 when he was first diagnosed with leukaemia.
He fought through that to play his way onto the PGA Tour in 2007 and then rose again after being floored by a recurrence in 2012, barely able to take the club back on the first tee when he made an emotional return to the game at the 2013 Australian Masters.
He played 10 events on the PGA Tour in both 2015 and 2016 and with a loving family now enveloping him success on the golf course was secondary to what we all hoped in our hearts would be a long and rich life on earth.
And then on July 26, 2017 news came through that Lyle, now a father of two, would have to summon the courage and strength to fight round three.
Once again the golf world rallied with love and support, utterly convinced that it was in part the panacea to Lyle’s pain.
But this time was different, and Jarrod knew it.
He shared the gravity of his situation while in commentary with Channel Seven at last year’s Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club, his strength now exhibited in the honesty with which he spoke.
With a bone marrow transplant imminent, Lyle opened his heart to reveal the depth of the difficulty the latest diagnosis presented.
He was given a 25 per cent chance of again being triumphant, odds so heavily stacked against him but which Allenby once again implored him to defy.
He knew his daughters were about to see their father in a state that no child should be confronted by and that this latest round of chemotherapy would be the strongest his body had ever faced.
“And that is why I am so scared,” Jarrod wrote in his blog last November.
Which is why Allenby was so scared.
“He’s not as positive as he’s been, as he was for the last two times,” Allenby told Australian Golf Digest at the 2017 Australian PGA Championship. “That scares me a little bit.”
He would never give up – that’s never been the Jarrod Lyle way – but perhaps deep down both he and Allenby knew the punishment his body would be subjected to in the weeks that were to follow would eventually take the ultimate toll.
Remember the 2005 Heineken Classic when a 23-year-old rookie stole our hearts and made us almost completely forget the marathon playoff between Craig Parry and Nick O’Hern that he’d missed by a single shot?
It brought to our attention a young man who over the ensuing 13 years would make us laugh and cry in equal measures and remind us of the power of positivity.
“Within myself I feel like I'm the real champion here,” Lyle said following just his fifth tournament as a professional.
And as we wait for the inevitable that’s how we shall think of him.
As a champion whose endlessly optimistic outlook will be carried forward in his honour by those blessed to have shared even a moment of a full life cut tragically short.
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