If you didn’t expect David Lynn to be sitting near the top of the Masters Tournament leaderboard – well, neither did his family.
“I can’t believe it,” his swooning mother, Lesley, said after Lynn birdied 11 and 12 to jump to the top of the field. “My son is leading the Masters. I can’t believe it.”
There is so much not to believe about the David Lynn story – a tale of overnight success at the ripe age of 39. Nobody in America had ever heard of him until last August when a pair of 68s on the weekend vaulted him to a runner-up finish in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., in his first tournament in the United States.
Now playing his third career major (the first was the 2003 British Open where he finished 53rd), Lynn is tied for fourth after an opening 68.
“It’s taken me a golfing lifetime to get here, as well,” he said. “I’ve been pro for 15, 16 years.”
Lynn’s professional curriculum vitae reads nothing like a typical Masters participant. The only European Tour event he won was way back in 2004 and before that was a Challenge Tour event in 1997.
Then, starting late in 2011, he posted four top-five finishes at regular intervals on the European Tour to climb into the top 100 for the first time since 2006. He got into the PGA with a ranking of No. 98 and finally came to test himself in the U.S.
How does a guy go nine years without ever qualifying for a major and never playing in America, then suddenly finish runner-up in the PGA and get in the hunt at Augusta?
“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 to put in a performance like that. You come out the other side with a bit more confidence.
“When I know I’m on my game, I know I can compete at that sort of level. What happened at Kiawah Island was basically confirming it to myself.”
His PGA earnings qualified him to take a PGA Tour card, and after much consideration decided to give it a shot. He doesn’t mind at all the pampering PGA Tour pros get – especially getting his laundry done between tournaments.
“It’s given me a second wind at the moment,” he said. “Obviously everything’s new. I’m going to a different place every week, a different course, and it’s like I’ve started my career again almost. So I’m having to knuckle down and, you know, do my homework when I get to places, and just enjoying what the PGA Tour has to offer at the moment, which it’s really good.”
Now he finds himself at Augusta with an entourage of family and friends, including his club pro brother, Simon, who was considered the better prospect when they were younger. That’s back when Lynn was a goal-tending prospect for his hometown soccer club, Wigan.
But the Lynns aren’t just here to check out the azaleas and pimento cheese sandwiches.
“It’s something that is quite easy to be a tourist when you turn up here, but you sort of have to turn around to yourself and say, you’re here to do a job,” Lynn said.
There’s more to Lynn than just a good run of golf. It turns out, he’s one of golf’s most intriguing pranksters – or “plankster” as the case may be. The Englishman likes a good laugh, and the fad of planking is one he dabbles in.
Planking, for the uninitiated, is the act of mimicking a wooden plank – lying face down like a board with your hands held stiffly at your sides. Lynn has tweeted out several classic planking photos – one of him with his head in an oven and another in the arms of the “Bear Trap” statue at PGA National. A couple days after beating Tiger Woods (68-70) when they were paired together in the Honda Classic, he tweeted another of him stretched across the top of his hotel television set with the caption “For those of you who missed me on TV this weekend, here’s a quick rerun.”
“It’s childish,” he said. “I’m not into that sort of stuff anymore.”
How about Dufnering?
“I did do a Dufner, yes,” he said.
If Lynn were to attempt a plank at Augusta National, “Hogan’s Bridge is probably the obvious one.” But he’s refrained.
“Have to be careful this week,” he said. “I’d like to be able to come back.”
Practical jokes, however, are a specialty. He’s been known to drop water balloons on unsuspecting guests at art gallery openings or crazy glue friends’ utensils to a restaurant table.
“I’m always opportunistic when I see things, I’ll do things sometimes,” he said. “I just like to have fun. Normally my caddie is at the butt of most of my jokes.”
His caddie, Wayne Husselbury, was the victim of a Manti Te’o-like dating Web site prank. Lynn created his own profile posing as a beautiful woman who quickly had Husselbury excited about a rendezvous.
“I let the cat out of the bag after only a few hours,” Lynn told Golfweek. “I wasn’t cruel.”
Whatever happens the rest of the week, Lynn and Husselbury shared a moment at the turn when his name was atop the leaderboard.
“I was on the ninth, and my caddie said, ‘You’re leading the Masters,’” Lynn said. “He just looked at me and smiled. I said, ‘I’d rather be leading it Sunday afternoon.’
“It’s obviously not a bad thing to see your name up there leading the Masters, and something you could always look back on. But you know, there’s a lot to be done for the rest of the week and hopefully I can keep my name up there.”
If he does, the green jacket planking pictures could be epic.