AUGUSTA, Ga. — David Lynn spotted the leaderboard as he was making the turn in front of Augusta National clubhouse.
Yes, it was something to behold.
“It’s obviously not a bad thing to see your name up there leading the Masters,” Lynn said after Thursday’s opening round. “But there’s a lot to be done for the rest of the week, and hopefully I can keep my name up there.”
The lead slipped away on Day 1, but a 4-under 68 left the Englishman just two strokes behind the front-runners, Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman.
Not bad for someone playing their first Masters. But maybe not that big of a surprise, considering Lynn was the runner-up to Rory McIlroy in last year’s PGA Championship.
He certainly had to be patient. This moment was 17 years in the making.
“It’s taken me a golfing lifetime to get here,” Lynn said.
The 39-year-old Lynn first played on the European Tour in 1996, his lone victory coming eight years later. But his career took a new direction after his performance last August at Kiawah Island — McIlroy won by eight strokes but Lynn was next after back-to-back 68s on the weekend.
He cashed an $865,000 check, moved across the Atlantic to play on the PGA Tour, and began prepping for the Masters.
“It’s given me a second wind,” Lynn said. “Everything is new. I’m going to different places every week, different courses. It’s like I’ve started my career again almost.”
Heading into Augusta, he got some tips from old friend David Gilford, who shot 67 the first time he played the Masters in 1995.
The advice: “Don’t be too intimidated by the greens. There are birdies out there. Try and be aggressive when you can be.”
Lynn must have listened.
He got off to a strong start, knocking a wedge to 8 feet at the very first hole and rolling in the birdie putt. A 6-footer on the par-5 eighth pushed him to 2 under, then a perfect wedge that plopped down 6 feet below the hole left him with another easy birdie at No. 9, sending him to the back side with a 33.
Lynn finally stumbled at the 10th, where a tricky 3-footer slid by the hole for his first bogey. But Lynn birdied the next two holes, banging in a 40-foot putt at the tough 11th.
After giving back a stroke with another short miss at the 17th, Lynn rolled in a 15-footer to save par at the final hole.
“Obviously, it was great to make par there, finish on a high,” Lynn said.
Lynn was still talking about his round in the media center when another name surged to the top of the board. Leishman ripped off four straight birdies on the back side to seize the lead.
That did little to dampen Lynn’s mood.
“I know when I’m on my game, I can compete at that sort of level. What happened at Kiawah Island was basically confirming it to myself,” he said. “Although McIlroy ran away with it that week, it was still, for me, an environment that I had not been in before.”
Seems like he’s getting used to it now.
“If you speak to more or less every golfer who is out here on various tours, they will all believe that they have performances in them as good as the top guys,” Lynn said. “I’ve always believed that I could perform well. I just don’t do it consistently enough. And why, I don’t know. I guess right place, right time at the PGA and everything going right for me.”
If he’s in contention going into the weekend, he’ll feel more comfortable with the role.
“You come out the other side with a bit more confidence,” Lynn said. “I’m not going to sit here and say I’m going to be there Sunday night, but deep down, I know that I’ve got performances in me that could put me there Sunday night.”MORE IN Sports Wire
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