Why should we get to know David Lynn? He's the perfect cure for golf boredom
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- David Lynn's hair pokes over the crown of his visor like a weeping ficus. He is built like Ian Poulter -- the two are mates and share a passion for Ferraris -- and he hits a tight cut off the tee like a young Colin Montgomerie.
But none of those qualities begin to hint at why Lynn is so intriguing, just as they were not enough to hold anyone's attention at Augusta National on Thursday, when Lynn, dressed as a yellow Masters flag, blended into the scenery while firing a 4-under-par 68 that briefly gave him the first-round lead.
"Is that the guy who's leading?" a man asked from near the landing zone on the par-5 13th hole. "David Lynn? Is that his name? David Lynn?"
Yes, that's his name. No, he's no longer leading. He's tied for fourth, two behind co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman, one behind Dustin Johnson.
Lynn has one career win, the 2004 KLM Open. He makes a lot of cuts. He only started to become relevant after barely squeaking into the field at the PGA Championship at Kiawah last summer, when he closed with a pair of 68s to finish second to Rory McIlroy. The runner-up finish got Lynn into the Masters; the $865,000, the biggest check of Lynn's career, gave him full PGA Tour status.
"It's given me a second wind," he said. "I'm going to a different place every week, a different course, and it's like I've started my career again, almost."
But who cares? To listen into the chatter at Augusta on Thursday, Lynn's playing partners, Ian Woosnam (80) and Kevin Na (70), were of far more interest.
"Oh, Woosie really is gonna be woozy after this," someone said after Woosnam duck-hooked his tee shot on the wrong side of Rae's Creek on 13.
Woosnam, 55, hacked at his second and watched it rocket off a tree trunk, backward. Lynn and Na watched as the rotund little Welshman hit a low screamer into the crowd right of the fairway, pitched a lay-up shot to just in front of the creek, chipped on, and drained a long putt to eke out a bogey, delighting the crowd.
Lynn, the canary-colored no-name, burned the edge for birdie, tapped in for par and got polite golf claps. He was just some guy. He was leading the Masters.
"I've always believed that I could perform well," said Lynn, who was on nine when he first noticed he was leading. "I just don't do it consistently enough."
This is Lynn's third major, and he had never played in America until setting foot on Kiawah last August. He had never seen Augusta National until Monday, and texted former Ryder Cupper David Gilford for advice. (The two have known each other since Lynn was 15.) "Don't be too intimidated by the greens," Gilford texted back. "There are birdies out there. Try and be aggressive when you can be."
Lynn practiced with Thomas Bjorn, who threw down a series of "holes" to show were the pins would be for the tournament. Lynn practiced with Sandy Lyle and Woosnam. And though he was "gutted" to miss it, Lynn skipped Wednesday's Par 3 Contest to rest up for his early tee time Thursday. He sticks to his routine.
And none of that is terribly interesting. So as two old men behind the 14th tee sized up Lynn -- an overnight sensation nearly 18 years after turning pro -- they let their minds drift to more important things, like China's Tianlang Guan (73).
Oldie number one: "Did the young kid come through yet?"
Oldie two: "I don't think so."
Lynn split the fairway, hit the green and two-putted for par on 14. He was still in the lead. He lost his tee shot right on 15, where a 50-something man looked across the fairway at Lynn, squinting. "Is that Adam Scott?"
"No," someone said. "That guy's leading the tournament."
"Oh," the man said.
His wife buried her head in her pairings sheet. "Where is Adam Scott?"
So yes, the Lynn-sanity is in its early stages, confined mostly to his small tribe of supporters Thursday: his younger brother, Simon, a teaching pro back in England; Lynn's first sponsor, Glyn Jones; his former manager, Dan Nickless; his mom, Lesley, who got a little teary eyed at the sight of her son's name atop the leaderboard; and his dad, Ron, a former miner who wasn't so easily moved.
"It should be better," Ron said of David's score, noting a few missed short putts, like the three-footer for par that slid three feet past the hole on 17.
Oh, and Lynn's 8,540 Twitter followers -- they're excited, too.
Why? What's so exciting about Lynn? He comes across as soft-spoken and golfy. At least three times after his 68 he mentioned the disagreement he and his caddie had over what club to hit in on 18 -- Lynn wanted to smooth a 6-iron, his caddie made him jump on a 7. Lynn hit what looked like a lovely shot but heard no clapping and figured he was short, but in fact he was long, and he got up and down for par and -- oh, never mind. It was a story only a yardage book could love.
So why is Lynn the hot, new cure for golf boredom?
Start with the squirrel story. His ex-manager, Nickless, who used to travel with Lynn on the European tour, loves the squirrel story. Animal lover Lynn was driving in England when he heard a "thump" from underneath his car. He turned around, scraped the stricken rodent off the pavement, brought it back to his house in Stoke-on-Trent, fed it, watered it, mended its leg, and set it free a few days later.
"I mean who does that?" Nickless says, laughing at the memory.
Consider the "planking" thing. Lynn loves it. He stiffens his body, arms at his sides, as if he's visualizing a skeleton run. Then he gets someone to take his picture, and hilarity ensues. Lynn's Twitter account features a picture of him "planking" with his head in a washing machine. Another photo shows him planking while being cradled in the forearms of the giant bear statue at PGA National, where he finished T4 at the Honda Classic in early March. (Playing with Tiger Woods in round three, Lynn shot 68. Woods signed for a 70.) He planked on top of a TV with the caption, "For those of you who didn't see me on TV ..."
"It's childish," Lynn said with a wry smile. "I'm not into that sort of stuff anymore."
But you know he is. He can't help it. When he found out his caddie was on an Internet dating site earlier this year, Lynn marauded as a buxom babe who had a thing for men who carry golf bags. He has flooded a hotel lobby in Spain, filled Nickless's suitcase with pasta, and has the filthiest Twitter feed on Tour -- one entry has Lynn announcing he is thinking of "marking my balls differently," with a photo that must be seen to be believed. An obviously impressed Steve Elkington tweeted, "anyone that puts a Union Jack stamp on his left clacker has got [to be] worth a look." And that might not even be @davelynndawg's raunchiest tweet.
Pro golf may be played in a bubble but the pros have been the early adopters of David Lynn -- until now. "This made my whole day!!!!" Christina Kim tweeted along with a picture of the noon-time leaderboard at Augusta. "SUCH a baller!!!!"
Planker, tweeter, clacker, baller -- the cult of David Lynn is just beginning.