Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

A fill of golf rather lunch for Lizza

Paul Lizza couldn't pass up the opportunity to play a round of golf with Jarrod Lyle on Sunday and missed Easter lunch with his family to do so.

OLIVER CAFFREY April 23, 2014 3:10am

Jarrod Lyle, in action last Thursday, has been playing against district players, while improving his fitness ahead of a return to the US PGA Tour.

Easter lunch with family or playing golf with a PGA professional?

That was the dilemma facing Paul Lizza on Sunday.

District golfers have been doing whatever they can to have a hit with Shepparton-raised Jarrod Lyle as he prepares for a return to the US PGA Tour later in the year.

Lyle played the first of two four-round homecoming tournaments at Shepparton Golf Club at the weekend, with the club’s best playing off against him.

Lizza said when the opportunity arose to play a round with Lyle, he had to take it.

‘‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,’’ Lizza said.

‘‘It was Easter Sunday and I was supposed to be out at a family lunch, but they all completely understood, you’re not going to pass up an opportunity to play with Jarrod Lyle.’’

Lizza has only seriously taken up the sport in the past 18 months, but said it was already a career highlight.

‘‘It was an awesome experience and a complete eye-opener playing with someone that good, just seeing some of the shots he hits was unreal,’’ Lizza said.

‘‘There were a bit of nerves straight up, but after the first tee, you see he’s just a normal bloke and so down to earth, the nerves go away.’’

Another star-struck golfer was Geoff Withers, who has played at the club regularly for more than 10 years.

Withers said he watched on in awe as Lyle made his way around the course, alongside Ray Sizer and Jo Rathjen on Saturday.

‘‘It’s pretty amazing seeing someone that good up close,’’ Withers said.

‘‘The thing that really impressed me is he just monsters the par five holes.

‘‘My own form on the day was bad, but it was always going to be bad compared to Jarrod.’’

Withers plays off a handicap of about 20 and said it was a highlight to be able to equal Lyle on one hole during the day’s play.

‘‘I thought to myself it would be great to get the same score on one hole, or even beat him on one would be my aim,’’ Withers said.

‘‘Ray and I decided we would be playing off the backmarkers with Jarrod, because if you do happen to beat him, it wouldn’t really be the same if you weren’t hitting off the same tee.’’

It was not just the more experienced players at the club who have been given the chance to play against Lyle, young gun Kyle Michel was part of the first group on Thursday, alongside fellow young golfers Aiden Bartley and Joseph Thomas.

Michel is one of the lucky ones, as he gets a second shot at playing against Lyle on Saturday.

‘‘It rates pretty highly and it’s nice to see where I am compared to a well known pro golfer — he beat me by four shots, which I was pretty happy with,’’ Michel said.

‘‘Probably just walking up to the first tee, that was the best experience and seeing how he deals with different situations on the course and manages to get his way out of them.’’

Lyle said being back at the club had reinforced how much talent there was in the area.

‘‘It’s nice to see the Shepp Golf Club have a lot of juniors that will be good players for the club and it was a real joy playing with those guys,’’ Lyle said.

‘‘I guess they look up to me, and that was me in their position 15 years ago when I was playing.’’

The second and final tournament starts tomorrow, where Lyle will play against Andy Strange, Daryl Butcher and Terry Allan from noon.

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