David Lynn hadn't ever had a reason to play a pro tournament in the United States. Now, the Englishman's has at least two more big ones after finishing second to Rory McIlroy in the PGA Championship.
Lynn shot his second straight 68 on Sunday to finish at 5-under 283, a whopping eight shots behind McIlroy. But the runner-up finish was good enough to earn invitations to two of next year's majors, the Masters and the PGA Championship.
Lynn hadn't played in nearly a month, choosing to protect his spot in the top 100 to see if he might qualify for the year's final major. The call came last week and the 38-year-old Lynn was on his way to The Ocean Course.
"It's a little bit surreal right now," Lynn said.
It must be for someone who hadn't ever competed in America.
"I've never been exempt to play in anything in America, so that's the reason why I've never been over here," he said. "This is a good start."
And a nice pay day. Lynn earned $865,000 for second at the PGA Championship, more than double his season's total of $407,636 in 14 events on the European Tour.
So how does a player whose biography includes the line, "Finished inside The European Tour's top 90 for a 12th consecutive season in 2011," make it into the PGA Championship.
Lynn had just missed squeezing in as part of the world's top 100 several times and, ranked No. 98 this year, didn't want to slip out. So he shut down his game after the Scottish Open a month ago. He didn't touch the clubs, he said, for about two weeks, then felt great at practice. "My game had been feeling like it's turned a corner a little bit," he said.
He's certainly improved his ranking after the PGA Championship, moving up to No. 40 in the world.
That showed over the many faces of The Ocean Course. Lynn opened with a 73 in what proved to be the mildest conditions of the week Thursday. He held firm Friday with a second-round 74 as wind gusts off the Atlantic Ocean approached 40 mph. Lynn broke par with a 68 in the rain-delayed third round. While Carl Pettersson and Ian Poulter had early birdies to keep pace with McIlroy early on, both faded down the stretch.
Poulter had bogeys on four of the final six holes, including the 18th, to fall to 4-under. Pettersson also came in at 4-under, his round of 72 that included a two-shot penalty on No. 1 for moving a leaf while in a hazard with his backs swing.
Poulter remembers rooming with Lynn when both were young English pros trying to make their marks. "This is a huge week for him," Poulter said. "You're disappointed that you didn't win, but to finish second in a major in amazing."
For Lynn, getting more chances at the majors, especially the Masters is the most special part. He knew a top-15 finish would bring him back to play the PGA Championship in 2013 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. He was surprised when he found out that the top four on Kiawah Island would play for a green jacket at Augusta National. "That's a nice bit of news that because it's what I always wanted to do," he said.
Lynn has one career victory on the European Tour at the Dutch Open in 2004. That was also the year of his best finish, 26th, on the European Tour money list. He credited that win a Wedgwood China ballmarker he had lost and got replaced with a 1891 "Queen's Shilling" coin he got from his father to use as a replacement.
This morning, Lynn said he couldn't find his latest Wedgwood marker and he was shaken up. "But then I thought, 'Last time that happened, good things happened,'" he said. "I mean, that's absolutely true."
Lynn also explained why he's been reluctant to qualify for the U.S. and British Opens, feeling that if you don't automatically qualify you probably don't belong in the field. "I actually am a bit stubborn sometimes," he said.
Lynn hopes he can keep proving he belongs in majors and play the way he did at The Ocean Course. "To come and perform the way I have this week in a major is still very special and it's a great achievement," he said. "It's not sunk in properly yet, to be honest."