In the Golf Paper

David Lynn was the shooting star among the game’s giants at Kiawah Island

(photo by Getty Images)

(photo by Getty Images)

by Graham Otway

It is a question that would have sports buffs at a pub quiz scratching their heads with little chance of knowing the answer.

With the world’s best golfers gathered at Whistling Straits this week it would certainly be a good time to ask: “Which English golfer has produced the highest finish at the US PGA Championship in the past ten years?”

Almost inevitably the names offered in response would feature some recent and well established Ryder Cup heroes like Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Paul Casey or Ian Poulter.

However, none of the above mentioned has in the last decade matched the performance produced by David Lynn at Kiawah Island in 2012.

Having just broken into the world’s top 100 for the first time and making his debut in the year’s fourth Major, the then 38-year-old shot two 68s over the weekend to finish in second place.

Admittedly, he was eight shots behind the winner Rory McIlroy but no other player in the field was closer to the young Ulsterman on the leaderboard.

And while Lynn was an example of how every man has his day once in his life, it was not just a one off victory over his fellow countrymen.

For, apart from earning a handsome €712,000 cheque, Lynn landed a ticket to play the follow year on the US Tour and the 2013 US PGA.

And while his journey to Oak Hill in New York State was not so spectacularly productive, he still captured 22nd place – and again there was no other Englishman above him on the leaderboard.

However, within 12 months of that second US PGA appearance and having earlier in the year made his debut at The Masters, Lynn had no choice but to lock his clubs away in his garage and announce his retirement from the pro golf circuit.

He had developed tendonitis in his right elbow which as he says: “It wasn’t just a case of not being able to play a round of golf, I couldn’t even swing a club in practice.”

However, having spent a large chunk of the €8 million in prize money he picked up in his 15-year career acquiring a property portfolio, he now has a new full-time job managing it.

But when the Merseysider who now lives in Hull looks back on that week in Kiawah Island he has some strange but also happy takes of his greatest golfing achievement.

“One of my memories was my preparation for it,” he recalls. “It was pretty crap. Having just broken into the world’s top 100, I knew I would get an invite to play The US PGA, but I took four weeks off from playing tournaments just in case I fell out of the top 100 before it arrived.

“I had just moved house at the time and instead of practising I just grafted away in the garden trying to get it straight. I wasn’t swinging a club, I was just digging and digging all day.

“But when I got to Kiawah Island I liked the visual aspect of the place. When I started practising, my game felt good and because the course had a blustery and links feel about it  I felt that would suit a European player like myself.

“It was only the second Major that I had played in (he had finished 53rd in The Open in 2003 at Royal St George’s) but although I started slowly I felt comfortable with my game and the course and it just got better.

“Obviously winning my first ever tournament was  the best thing I had ever done and something that I had grown up dreaming of wanting to do. But to perform that way in a Major was still very special, a great achievement.”

Sandstorm: David Lynn during the first round of World Golf Championships at Marana, Arizona in 2014 (photo by Getty Images)

Sandstorm: David Lynn during the first round of World Golf Championships at Marana, Arizona in 2014 (photo by Getty Images)

On a wider scale, Lynn has also now had time to think about how grabbing his US PGA opportunity introduced some unexpected new chapters into his life story.

“It is probably the easiest Major to get into because all you need to do is be in the top 100 in the rankings,” he said.

“But that also gives you the strongest field you will get and it gave me the opportunity to take my career to another level.

“I qualified for The Masters and earned my card for the US Tour through that one good performance and it was almost like a qualifying school for a seasoned, or you could say journeyman, pro like myself. Throwing in that top performance gave me access to a bigger stage.”

And in 2013 Lynn decided to play on the US Tour and enjoyed being back on the far side of the Atlantic again. “I just love the way they stage the tournaments in America, they are also so much bigger weeks.

“And while I started slowly I did get to finish fourth in the Honda Classic over a tough course at Palm Beach and against a strong field. And I later got into a play-off for the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.”

However, there was a big downside to all the travelling involved because back home in England his partner Sally Moore had just given birth to their daughter Layla.

“I was away from home for 42  weeks during 2013,” he recalls. “And it happened to me at the wrong time of my life.

“If I had gone to America ten or 15 years earlier it might have all been very different but I had just become a family man and wanted to be back home with them.”

So despite finishing 48th on the US Tour’s FedEx rankings table, he decided to return to playing full- time in Europe only to have that next stage in his career cut dead by the development of tendonitis.

But as well as producing his Sunday best at Kiawah island, Lynn does still laugh at his time away from the course with his Liverpudlian caddie Wayne Husselbury.

“We were in a restaurant one night,” recalls Lynn. “And Wayne  ordered buffalo wings but when they turned up he took a mouthful and said ‘hey, these taste like chicken’.

They didn’t nickname him ‘Dafty’ without good reason.”

*This article was originally published in TGP on 12 August 2015.

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