Back at the tournament where he began his comeback, Jarrod Lyle says he can win the Australian Masters this time around.
Lyle’s emotional tears as he prepared to tee off at Royal Melbourne one year ago following 18 months out of the sport fighting his second battle with leukaemia are part of Masters folklore.
Having recently taken some big steps toward reclaiming full US PGA Tour status, the 33-year-old has far greater ambitions for his 2014 Australian Masters campaign.
He gave a resounding `yes’ when asked if he could win at Metropolitan this week.
“With everything I’ve been doing in preparation for this week and the PGA (Tour) weeks, I’d like to think I’ve got a very good chance of winning,” he said.
Lyle said the memories from the 2013 Masters were still close.
“Last year was a pretty emotional time for me to be back out playing golf,” he said.
“I can probably promise there’s going to be no tears on the first tee this year.”
There are still emotional moments for Lyle as he immerses himself back into professional golf; a meeting visiting American golfer and friend Boo Weekly provided another reminder of that.
“He said `how you feeling?’,” Lyle said.
“I said `Well I’m not dead so I’m going alright’.
“It means the world to me that he’s still asking how I’m going.”
Lyle’s special circumstances triggered US PGA Tour rules which set him a cash target to reclaim a tour card.
He needs to win around $US285,000 in prizemoney in 20 events to stay on the tour.
And so far, so good.
Two events into his US tour comeback, Lyle has made both cuts and taken home $US53,795 with 31st and 42nd place finishes – putting him well on track.
The 33-year-old revealed the two October events were crucial to his ongoing recuperation, which has involved more than just physical conditioning.
“The hardest part was to get the mind right,” he said.
“When you’re sitting around doing nothing for so long in hospital and then at home, you try and make up excuses why you don’t want to go and play golf.
“Playing those two PGA events really helped overcome the hurdles of do I want to do this any more.
“The fire is definitely burning and I want to be playing more golf.”
That enthusiasm has filtered through to his fitness regime.
In his three weeks in Australia, Lyle has been pounding the pavement and has lost a few kilograms.
But he knows he’ll always be known as the golfer that beat leukaemia twice.
“I’m never going to lose that tag,” he said.
“But I now am a golfer again.
“I want to be out playing golf, I want to be competitive and be winning golf tournaments like everyone else.”