When he was a teenager, lying in a hospital bed and wondering if he would make it out, could Jarrod Lyle have imagined the life waiting for him?
When he was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, aged 17, the year 12 student at Shepparton High School had to spend nine months in bed at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.
In between the rigours of his treatment – chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant – did he dream of the life he would lead?
Could he know all the beauty he would find in the world, and the hurt too?
Did he know he’d gone to high school with the love of his life, but that it would take him eight years to find her again in a café?
Did he know they’d have two of the cutest girls you’d ever see?
Did he know he’d earn his living playing alongside the best golfers in the world?
That he’d stride the fairways of Royal Liverpool at The Open, watching as a mate of his called Tiger lifted his third Claret Jug?
Could he hear the crowd’s electric roar as he aced the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale in the Phoenix Open in 2011, before turning for a high five and yelling “You f—ing beauty” so loud it was picked up by the on-course mic?
Lyle’s friend Robert Allenby wrote in an emotional PlayersVoice column that “if I had to pick one image to sum him up, it’s that one”.
“A smile from ear to ear … that’s just him to a tee.”
It was impossible not to support Jarrod Lyle, who died on Wednesday night at the age of 36 after finally succumbing to the cancer he had beaten twice before.
He was a gentle bear of a man with a great sense of humour and an easy smile.
He was a bloke who attended the John Daly school of physical fitness, and was one of the few modern golfers to rock a bucket hat in competition.
His cancer returned in 2012, just as he was playing the best golf of his career.
Lyle beat it back again, making an emotional return to the sport at the 2013 Australian Masters.
If you saw his pride as he walked to the first tee that Thursday you’d never forget it, the big man stopping for one last hug of his daughter Lusi, before hitting his ball like it had committed a crime.
“It was nice to get out there and see everybody that I love standing around the tee,” he said.
“I hit that first tee shot with tears all through my eyes.”
Lyle made the cut, and managed to play out the final round even though he didn’t have a leg under him.
The cancer returned for a third time last year, and although he attacked it with everything he had, Allenby realised this time was different.
“There was a confidence in him the first two times, an ‘I’m going to beat this’ attitude’,” he wrote.
“It was different this time. We were at the Australian Open in November and he said to me, ‘I’m really scared. I don’t think this is going to be a great outcome’.
“I burst into tears. We must have cried a thousand times together through the years.”
Lyle’s wife, Briony, announced on July 31 he had chosen to stop treatment and begin palliative care.
There comes a time when that’s the only choice to make.
I looked at the photo of Lyle kissing the forehead of his youngest daughter Jemma, who’s smiling, while holding the hand of his eldest, and I wanted to weep for all of them.
It’s a photo every father understands – there’s no greater feeling on Earth than wrapping up your daughter in a cuddle and inhaling her.
I hope Jarrod Lyle spent his final days soaking up all the love in this world.
You made it a better place while you were here.