Jason Day said he was “tearing up” at the loss of his good friend Jarrod Lyle after he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 36.
Day wrote on social media Lyle “will forever be an inspiration to us all” after the former PGA Tour player passed away on Wednesday evening, having halted treatment for leukaemia and moving into palliative card on August 1.
“It’s hard because you sit there and you know him and he’s a buddy of yours, and he’s not there anymore,” Day, who hit a three-under 67 in St Louis, said.
“He’s never going to come back. That’s the hardest thing to sort of come by. Now I’m tearing up.”
Lyle overcame leukaemia as a 17-year-old before suffering a recurrence in 2012 but made another recovery to return to professional golf at the Australian Masters in November 2013.
However, his health rapidly deteriorated in recent months and his wife Briony emphasised in a statement the support the Australian had received as his life drew to a close was of a huge comfort.
“He battled half his life. And the crazy thing is he was always upbeat and positive,” Day added.
“No matter what you did, you could be playing terrible, and if you’re playing golf with him, you always walked off the golf course happy.
“For him to first get diagnosed with it when he was 17 years old and then battled three times, it just goes to show how much of a fighter he was inside to be able to keep pushing on even though it is painful to go through the stuff that he went through.”
Lyle recorded two professional tournament wins during his career, both coming in 2008 at the Mexican Open and the Knoxville Open, and Day said his story could act as a great source of strength to people in a similar situation.
“I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando. It’s obviously heartbreaking to see,” Day said.
“I’ve known Jarrod for a long time, and obviously my thoughts and prayers go out to Bri and the two kids.
“I would not know one-tenth of what he went through and what his family went through, but he was a really good buddy of mine, a good friend of mine.
“He impacted a lot of people just because of it. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there that are sick and have probably the same thing going on.
“So for people to hear his story and know that he fought on for a long time and lived a good life and had two kids and had a good loving wife, that’s a lot of positive to come out of a story like that.”
Tiger Woods also expressed his sadness at Lyle losing his battle and reflected on his one and only time playing with the Australian at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational.