Buried in Kyler Aubrey’s closet is a Masters flag from 2013 with the signature of only one participant: Phil Mickelson. When Aubrey met Mickelson and his spouse Amy that yr at Augusta National, Mickelson instantly bent right down to signal Aubrey’s flag. When Mickelson by accident wrote the fallacious title on it – then subsequently scribbled it out – a horrified Amy promised the Aubrey household that her husband would signal a brand new one they usually’d have it shipped.
Sure sufficient, the flag confirmed up a couple of weeks later to the Aubrey’s dwelling in Statesboro, Georgia. On Sunday at the PGA Championship, Aubrey acquired one other piece of Mickelson memorabilia. He and his dad Josh have been simply inside the ropes by No. 5 inexperienced at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course when Mickelson holed out from the sand, securing the birdie that helped him separate himself.
“When we were there we could actually see a perfect view of Phil making the shot and we were just screaming. When Phil made it, he came up to us and said here’s my lucky ball, I want you guys to have it, thank you for coming,” Josh mentioned.
“…We were so in the moment that we didn’t even notice that Kyler had dropped the ball. Phil turned around and picked it back up and set it on his lap.”
Kyler Aubrey, 28, has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. At Kiawah, the sand is especially arduous for him to navigate – one thing they realized in 2012. The Aubreys had practice-round tickets to that PGA Championship there, after which lucked into tickets for the remainder of the week, too. Statesboro is just a 2 ½-hour drive from the South Carolina coast.
“While we were going around the course we kept getting stuck,” Josh mentioned. “David Feherty came up to us and said I notice you guys kept getting stuck – this was like Sunday afternoon – he said I want to give you this all-access pass, you can go anyway you want to on the golf course.”
Feherty’s generosity made a world of distinction in traversing the tough terrain. It additionally helped spark lifelong friendships. Roughly an hour earlier than McIlroy closed out his win that yr, Josh and Kyler have been close to the scoring tent.
“I was like, I wonder if we can go up in here,” Josh remembered considering. “We went in there and they let us through and all the golfers that finished would walk right by us.”
The Aubreys had spoken with Graeme McDowell in a observe spherical early week, and when McDowell noticed them sitting there on Sunday, he joined them to talk with Kyler for almost an hour. McDowell then launched the household to Rory McIlroy.
Through the years, the Aubreys have maintained these friendships as they’ve attended Tour occasions throughout the Southeast like the Players Championship, the Tour Championship. McIlroy at all times seeks out Kyler to catch up, Josh says, and the Aubreys have stayed at McDowell’s home a few instances whereas attending the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Rory McIlroy and Kyler Aubrey at the 2012 PGA Championship. (Aubrey household picture)
Just a few years in the past, Rickie Fowler, who has additionally change into a buddy, approached the Aubreys on the again of the observe vary at Bay Hill and, when he came upon they didn’t have Masters tickets for that yr, got them tickets for the complete week.
Statesboro can also be solely an hour and a half from Augusta, so Kyler and Josh have regularly attended the Wednesday observe spherical at the Masters.
Kyler enjoys Wednesdays the most as a result of it’s when he can work together with the gamers he’s developed relationships with by means of the years. He has been a golf fan since he was just a bit boy, when Josh used to take him to the golf course and bungee his automobile seat into the golf cart whereas he performed. Kyler cherished to observe.
“When he was little, like 2 or 3 years old, he would get over to the TV and change the channel to the Golf Channel. Instead of watching cartoons, he was watching the Golf Channel,” Josh mentioned.
Tiger Woods was simply gaining in reputation about that time, and the Aubreys attended the Tour occasion in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1999 – the solely yr Woods performed the occasion.
“Kyler was 6 when that happened, when he played,” Josh mentioned. “That just kind of took it to a new level and then that’s all he wanted to do.”
Kyler Aubrey and Tiger Woods at the 2011 Players Championship. (Aubrey household picture)
Kyler’s youthful sister Sloane, 19, additionally loves golf. She has performed since the sixth grade, and continues to play, although not collegiately. Sunday at the PGA Championship was significantly particular as a result of Sloane was with the boys, too.
When Kyler was 22 and Sloane was 12, their brother Jordan, 17, died in a automobile accident. That’s when Kyler and Sloane grew nearer. Golf has at all times introduced the household collectively. The PGA Championship, nevertheless, marked the first time in almost two years the Aubreys had gotten to be followers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a event, Kyler is at all times a straightforward particular person for Tour gamers to identify.
“People would see him and he’s always in a good mood, he loves being out there, he’s always got a big smile and he always wants to give those guys hugs,” Josh mentioned.
“I think that’s what he likes so much about golf is they’ll interact with him.”
Kyler brightens their day, simply as they brighten his.
Phil Mickelson and Kyler Aubrey at a earlier PGA Tour occasion. (Aubrey household picture)