Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Masters: Former goalkeeper David Lynn briefly steals limelight from Tiger Woods

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  David Lynn of England hits out of the bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11: David Lynn of England hits out of the bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

David Lynn was once on the books of Wigan and Stoke as a goalkeeper, which, theoretically at least, means he could have been contesting an FA Cup semi-final this weekend or playing against Manchester United. Oh well, he will just have to settle for a spell leading the Masters.

What an Augusta debut for the 39-year-old, who 26 years earlier informed his parents that the gloves were not for him and he would instead be a golfer. That looked hell of a decision as Lynn birdied the first and continued to flush the scoreboard full of red numbers. It might not last, probably won't. Who cares? After the career Lynn has had you take days like this when you can get them. An opening 68 gave him the clubhouse lead on four under par until Marc Leishman bowled in with a 66 that was later followed by a rejuvenated Sergio Garcia. World No 19 Dustin Johnson posted a 67 to end the day one stroke back.

Click here to see the Masters leaderboard

"He played very well, considering it was his first time here," said Lynn's playing partner Ian Woosnam, who shared nine holes with him in practice. "I was just telling him which spots to hit it to in these greens, knowing where the flags were going to be. Other than that the guy has practised himself, so I'm not taking any credit for it."

As fate would have it, Lynn closed the back nine just as tournament favourite Tiger Woods was about to tee off. Woods was making his way from the putting green to the first when Lynn crossed unnoticed on the other side of the gallery. He was leading the tournament on three under par ,having birdied eight and nine, but none was looking his way.

That is not strictly true. Attached to the Wigan warrior was a personal retinue that included partner Sally, brother Simon and mother Lesley, who was lost in a deep reverie at the thought that her son was leading the greatest golf show on earth. Lynn has only one win on his resumé. He is here courtesy of his second place behind Rory McIlroy at the US PGA last August, an event for which he qualified only by edging into the top 100 of the world rankings.

It is by any stretch a marvellous tale made even greater, given the recurring inclination to pack it all in after 16 years of largely fruitless grind. Even on Sunday, on the eve of his maiden appearance here, Lynn was muttering about the appeal of spending more time in Hull at the home he shares with Sally and helping her in her father's family security business. "I'm not having that," she said. "I don't want him under my feet all day."

We assume that ambition is now on hold. After a bogey at the 10th, Lynn immediately righted his trajectory through Amen Corner with birdies at 11, a 40-footer lasered straight into the back of the cup, and 12, after which Sally broke into song with that winning line from Queen "another one bites the dust". There would be one more rendition at the 15th, where Lynn hit his approach to five feet and popped in for birdie. A dropped shot at the penultimate hole was unfortunate but there was enough shine on this day to accommodate any late blemish.

As Lynn left to tell his story to an Augusta audience learning about him for the first time, Woods was beginning to give the leader board a more familiar look. There is no entry quite like his. Think Mike Tyson in slacks. Were they to set it to music and light the walkway to the first tee with flames it could not be more dramatic. His opening tee shot matched the splendour of the slow, banana-munching march that came before it, finding the middle of the fairway. It was steady rather than spectacular after that but he was two under by the turn, a relationship to par he would maintain on the back nine.

The heat of the early part of the week gave way to a moody morning, with Augusta enveloped in a cloying mist when Sandy Lyle was called to hit the opening tee shot of the 2013 Masters 25 years after he won his Green Jacket. Lyle lit the touchpaper with a two-part swing, which begins slowly, stops briefly then resumes along its staggered plane. Lyle's ball ran out of fairway down the left, which resulted in an opening bogey. There was another at the fourth but there would be no unravelling. Lyle held his game together to close on one over par. "A 73's a nice start, even though I three-putted the 17th, which was rather annoying, and started with a bogey," he said.

Lee Westwood started with a double after leaking his opening tee shot left. Westwood was engaged in a curious inversion relying on a weakness, his supposedly flaky putter, to rescue mistakes emanating from a part of his game regarded as a strength, tee shots. He found the fairway bunker at three with an iron off the tee and missed the green long and right at the par-three 4th. Par putts of 12 feet and 25 cleaned up the mess before he picked up momentum with birdies at nine and 10 en route to an opening 70.

Justin Rose took the opposite route to the same score, flying out of the blocks with successive birdies before giving one back at the third. Enjoying the elevated status of world No3, Rose is carrying the hopes of many a punter here. They will have been pleased with his birdies at eight and 13, both par-5s, less so with the bogey at 17, and delighted with the 15-footer he holed at the last for par.

"I got off to a really, really nice start and felt like I hit the ball, drove the ball very, very well until the last three or four holes. I didn't really make anything [on greens] until the 18th, when I knocked in a nice 15-foot putt for par, which makes lunch taste good, really."

Augusta: Second day details

Selected tee times for today (all times BST; US unless stated) :

1.22pm M O’Meara, M Laird (Scot), J Donaldson (Wal)

2.39pm A Cabrera (Arg), S Garcia (Sp), A Scott (Aus)

3.12pm H Mahan, H Fujita (Japan), F Molinari (It)

3.23pm P Mickelson, L Oosthuizen (SA), M Kaymer (Ger)

3.34pm R McIlroy (NIrl), K Bradley, F Jacobson (Swe)

5.13pm M Weir (Can), L Westwood (Eng), J Furyk

5.24pm B Snedeker, R Ishikawa (Japan), J Rose (Eng)

5.57pm Z Johnson, K J Choi (Kor), G McDowell (NIrl)

6.30pm B Watson, I Poulter (Eng), S Fox

6.41pm T Woods, L Donald (Eng), S Piercy

6.52pm J Day (Aus), R Fowler, P Harrington (Irl)

Weather

Friday Stormy showers, becoming drier in afternoon. Max temp: 27C

Saturday Staying dry and cloudy, sunnier in evening. Max temp: 24C

Sunday Starting warm and sunny, overcast later. Max temp: 26C

TV 7pm-12.30am, Sky Sports 1.

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