It was obviously meant to be. Wigan win the FA Cup and their biggest fan in golf, David Lynn, climbs up the Players leaderboard in sympathy. After two birdies in the opening three holes Lynn's round really ignited around the time Wigan were lifting the cup with three more in four to the turn. That's for you, boys, he might have said.
Not for the first time Lynn, or Lynnsanity as he is known to the American audience, is the Brit making light of a heavyweight tournament. The 39-year-old Wigan fanatic has already banked more than a million dollars in America this season. He talked of quitting the game at the start of the year to spend more time with his partner in Hull. Humberside is rapidly losing its appeal if the missus is not.
After a two-hour weather suspension Lynn resumed with a birdie at 16 en route to a 68. He starts the final round on eight under par, three off the lead. “I was told on the ninth tee and I just couldn't believe it. Not just Wigan winning the cup but doing it in the 90th minute. I just had a huge smile on my face. My early years were in Wigan. I used to ball boy for them and so the club is very much in my blood,” he said.
Lee Westwood was moving painfully in the opposite direction posting two double bogeys in his opening four holes, including an air shot at the first when up against a tree. Westwood steadied therafter and was six under playing the 16th. Rory McIlroy started with a birdie at the opening hole to go seven under par and might have been out of sight at the turn but for a lukewarm putter. A bogey at nine was the first of three in six holes. In the end he was grateful a birdie at 16 to limit the damage to five under par.
None of the overnight leaders was having much joy. Sergio Garcia bogeyed the second to fall back to 10 under and remained there playing the 15th. Tiger Woods followed suit at the third after a birdie gave him temporary ownership of the lead at the third. He, too, could not advance and shared second spot on ten under par. Into the void stepped unheralded rookie David Lingmerth, who put five consecutive missed cuts behind him, and, with a birdie on 17, held the lead on 12 under par with one to play as bad light halted proceedings for the day.
After missing the cut at the second blue chip tournament on the spin Ian Poulter strode into the weekend with a twitter feed full of bile, the price of failure for the golfing high roller. Care less about the cars in the garage and more about golf and you might win the big one you crave, is the thrust of it.
Poulter fell two strokes the wrong side of the cut, emulating his Masters experiencing last month. He was followed out of the door by fellow Ryder Cup heavyweights Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell. Maybe the Americans should make a permanent Ryder Cup home at Sawgrass, a course that permits few errors and spits out golfers low on luck.
“I missed two cuts and people are trying to tell me the reason why. Why did Phil (Mickelson) miss cut? Why did Rosie miss cut? The reason is we played crap,” Poulter said in one of his more polite responses. “Everything happens for a reason. My reason is I'm swinging it like an Octopus falling out of a tree. I will be back in no time.”
Not according to Mr S Tusk, who, according to his twitter profile is much like Poulter “just trying to make it in America”. “Too many Ferraris. That's the reason,” he volunteered. Had he been sharper he might have said not enough submarines given the frequency with which Poulter found the water in the aquatic splendour of holes 16 and 17.
On Thursday he carved one in the lake from the middle of the 16th fairway then rinsed another at the emblematic par 3 adjacent. It is only 138 yards. Poulter's tee shot was wet the moment it left the club face. Poulter knew then what was coming when he fired up the iphone. The galleries packed into the stadium complex late on Thursday afternoon were at the wrong end of a boozy, hot day and let Poulter have all that their critical faculties could muster. It wasn't pretty.
Rose followed in the group behind and suffered none of the abuse meted out to Poulter. There was turmoil within, however, as he battled the inexorable slide into the Sawgrass dog house. At two under through his first four holes, Rose's week looked full of promise. But he was even coming into the stadium complex and increasingly discomfited by the experience. Friday was a day of giving and taking before the momentum finally went with the course.
McDowell started the tournament with a birdie, as he might having won last time out a notch or two up the eastern seaboard at Hilton Head. With four holes to play on Thursday he was four under par. His next 24 holes yielded only one birdie. Like Poulter and Rose he was gone on two over par. There were other significant casualties including America's Ryder Cup cheerleaders Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
Scott Stalling began with five successive birdies and still failed to make the cut, which is what Pete Dye had in mind when he designed this track out of old swampland bordering the Atlantic. Sawgrass has more bite that any alligator ever had.
Garcia and Woods row at Swagrass
The bad blood between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods resurfaced at Sawgrass during a tense third round. Playing together in the final group Garcia, who began the day with a one-shot lead, blamed Woods for creating a disturbance when he was about to play his second shot on the second hole, even though the two were out of sight of each other. The result was a carved approach and ultimately a bogey. That Woods, who was mired in trees at the time, went on to birdie the hole and affect a two-shot swing did not help Garcia’s mood.
“Tiger was on the left. It was my shot to hit. He moved all the crowd that he needed to move, and I waited for that,” Garcia said. “I want to say that he didn’t see that I was ready. But you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit. Right as I was on top of the backswing, I think he must have pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out of the rough and obviously everybody started screaming, so that didn’t help very much. It was unfortunate. I might have hit it there if nothing happens, you never know. If I hit a good shot there and make a birdie, it gets my day started in a bit of a different way.
“I think that I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players. The only thing you can do is that. If something bad happens, you try to deal with it the best way possible. I try to move on and forget about it. I hit a couple of good shots after that and kind of settled down a little bit. It would have been nice to make a couple of those putts.”