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Lynn exceeding expectations at PGA Championship
Lynn, a veteran with one career win on the European Tour, hadn’t played since finishing 36th at the Scottish Open four weeks ago. Now, he’s 1 under at The Ocean Course after a stellar 68 that left him five shots behind leaders Vijay Singh and Rory McIlroy in the rain-delayed third round of the year’s final major.
The 38-year-old Lynn found out last week he’d gotten an invite from the PGA of America to play. He’d been practicing well the past few weeks and thought maybe he’d have some surprises in store in his first career PGA. His round moved him up 26 spots into a tie for 11th and within sight of the leaders.
“My game has sort of turned a corner a few weeks ago,” said Lynn, who finished well ahead of the bad weather. “Practice has felt good. I feel like I’m hitting it well. Yeah, I came here this week thinking my game feels pretty good, so why not?”
Lynn turned pro in 1995 and struggled for several years before finally finding his footing on the European Tour. His best season as a pro came in 2004 when he won the KLM Open and finished a career-best 26th on the money list. He credited that victory to an 1891 “Queen’s Shilling” that his father gave him to use as a ball marker after he lost his longtime Wedgwood China marker a week earlier.
This season, Lynn’s had two fourth place finishes in 14 events and got an invite by the PGA of America last week to play on Kiawah Island.
He’s enjoyed his tme on the island, staying at a villa near water filled with alligators. There’s one Lynn’s nicknamed “Big Dude.”
It would be a fitting nickname for 6-foot-3 Lynn if he could put together an even better round Sunday. Lynn just hopes to stay as relaxed as he was on Saturday. “I’d love to go out there and sort of feel that way tomorrow,” he said.
Harrington, put on notice by captain Jose Maria Olazabal that he needed something special to happen to be selected to Europe’s team, had resigned himself to missing next month’s matches when he followed an opening-round 70 with a 76 on Friday at the PGA Championship.
Harrington shot back-to-back 66s on the weekend in 2008 to take the PGA title at Oakland Hills. It was his third major title in little more than a season’s worth of golf after winning the 2007 British Open and defending that title a month before his PGA win.
“Who knows what’s going to happen now,” Harrington said.
Singh and McIlroy were tied at 6-under and that’s “not too far away,” Harrington said. With a few breaks from the players having to finish their rounds starting at 7:45 a.m. Sunday, Harrington thinks he could make a final-round charge.
“To hang in there and if 4-under is in the last couple of groups, it means 1-under still has a chance,” he said.
MAJOR WINNERS: There probably won’t be a double-major winner this season. Masters champion Bubba Watson and British Open champion could not take advantage of The Ocean Course’s milder conditions in Saturday’s third round.
Watson started the day eight shots behind the leaders and didn’t make up much ground with his 70 that left him at 2-over for the tournament.
“Played good today, solid -2 today. watching golf on TV & playing “BubbaGolf,” Watson told his followers on Twitter when the round ended.
Els also hoped to make an early, third-round run, but never got things going with only one birdie on each nine to end with a 73 and was 4-over par. “Into the wind,” Els had said, “it’s survival.”
Els had a dramatic victory at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last month for his four major title. Adam Scott had a four-shot lead over Els with four holes remaining. But the Australian made four straight bogeys and Els left with the claret jug.
LUITEN‘S WAIT: Joost Luiten was the only player who didn’t finish the second round Friday, choosing to call it a day with as darkness closing in on The Ocean Course and the difficult 18th hole left. Turned out, Luiten made the right decision.
Luiten returned at 7:30 a.m., sinking a 22-foot birdie putt to close with a 76 and stand at even-par through two rounds.
Afterward, the 26-year-old Dutchman gushed about the greens at The Ocean Course. “They are the best. I played yesterday as the last group out and I have never seen greens get through like this at the end of the day,” he said. “There were not many footprints and stuff. One of the best putting surfaces I have ever seen.”
Luiten’s love of the greens continued in the third round as he opened with birdies on the first and second holes.
DIVOTS: Organizers set the yardage for Saturday’s third round the shortest it had been all week at 7,451 yards. That’s 217 yards shorter than the first-round yardage of 7,668. … Cameron Tringale opened his round with six straight pars and then blew up with a 5-over 10 on the 7th hole. … Thomas Bjorn went 11 holes before recording a par in Saturday’s round. He opened with four birdies, then followed with three bogeys. He got another birdie before taking bogeys on the 9th and 10th holes. Bjorn shot a 74. … Jimmy Walker closed his round with a 31 on the back nine and finished with a 67.
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