By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- David Lynn has taken what he frankly calls a "golfing lifetime" to finally earn his way to Augusta National and the Masters Tournament.
He's 39 years old, after all, and his European Tour career, which features just one win, and that coming more than a decade ago, can best be described as pedestrian. The Masters, in fact, is just the journeyman's third major championship since he turned pro in 1995.
But Lynn finished a distant second to Rory McIlroy last fall at the PGA Championship to earn the coveted invitation to Augusta National. And he has landed among the leaders once again on Thursday with a 68 that left him two strokes off Marc Leishman's pace.
Even though McIlroy was eight strokes clear at Kiawah Island, Lynn's performance there laid the groundwork for Thursday's solid round of six birdies and two bogeys. The Brit has always believed he had the talent but he just hasn't put it on display consistently enough.
"When I know I'm on my game, I know I can compete at that sort of level," Lynn said. "What happened at Kiawah Island was basically confirming it to myself. Certainly it gives you a little bit of extra belief and you know that you've been there before and you've experienced one of the biggest tournaments at the highest level. ...
"I was in an environment that I had not been in before. It was totally different to winning a golf tournament. ... It certainly gives you that confidence, that belief; that when you're there, when you're feeling good, you can compete."
The lanky Englishman also feels like he has been given a new lease on life this year. He's joined the PGA TOUR for the first time and he tied for fourth at The Honda Classic, where Lynn played with Tiger Woods in the third round and nipped the world No. 1 by two strokes.
"It's given me a second wind at the moment," Lynn 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 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."
Lynn played nine holes with former Masters champions Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam this week as he prepared for the Masters. He says Lyle's 1988 victory -- which was part of dominant stretch for Europeans at Augusta National -- helped turn his attention from soccer to golf.
Now that he's finally at Augusta National, where the abundant azaleas and dogwoods and sprawling antebellum clubhouse are so firmly etched in memory, Lynn says it's "quite easy" to become a tourist. But he has a job to do -- Lynn even swore off the Par 3 Contest after he waited so late to sign up that the only available starting times were after 4 p.m.
"I said to myself I'm not going to play if I get an early tee time Thursday, and sure enough, I got an early tee time Thursday," said Lynn, who nonetheless described himself as "gutted" he missed the Par 3. "... I've just got to hope that there are going to be other opportunities to play it.
"One of the first things Nicolas Colsaerts said to me when he walked past after the Par 3, he was saying the first thing you do is get your name down for the Par 3, because that's awesome. But I'm not here to play the Par 3; I'm here to prepare myself as best I could for playing the tournament, which I had to be disciplined in doing."
And depending on what happens come Sunday afternoon, there could be many other chances for fun and games on Wednesday afternoon.