Lingmerth mirrors British Open start but finishes better at PGA

MOSEL, Wis. – It appears David Lingmerth likes to come out of the gate fast at majors. Take the British Open in July when he scorched the first nine holes in 29. This time? Lingmerth made birdie on his first two holes and five of his first seven to tour the back side (his opening nine) in 31 at the PGA Championship.

“Yeah, last two have been pretty good,” said Lingmerth, who is making his fourth appearance in a major.

You don’t say. Unfortunately, at St. Andrews, Lingmerth came home in 40 strokes, which made his round of 69 feel more like 80. At Whistling Straits, Lingmerth showed he had learned from the experience and posted a 5-under 67, one stroke off the lead set by Dustin Johnson. That 67 felt more like a major championship record 63, given that only Scott Piercy (68) broke 70 among the afternoon competitors.

“The afternoon,” Lingmerth said, “was pretty darn tough.”

Lingmerth’s good play is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The 28-year-old Swede overcame a three-stroke deficit in the final round of The Memorial to defeat Justin Rose in a playoff. Since then, Lingmerth has recorded a T-6 at the Greenbrier Classic, a third at the Quicken Loans National, and a T-6 last week at the Bridgestone Invitational.

“That win at Memorial kind of got me the confidence,” said Lingmerth, who hit 10 of 14 fairways in regulation, 12 of 18 greens and took 26 putts.

Lingmerth isn’t afraid to shoot at flags and his aggressive style has delivered birdies by the bushel of late. In fact, 22 of his last 25 rounds have been par-or-better, dating to round one of the Memorial Tournament. But flag-hunting can be a double-edged sword as Lingmerth learned the hard way at St. Andrews, where he plummeted to a share of 77th place. A more conservative approach served him well when he got out of position in the opening round. His caddie, Tim Butler, said when Lingmerth found trouble at Pete Dye’s Whistling Straits he escaped without further damage.

“That’s what you’ve got to do. You have to play ugly sometimes,” Butler said. “Playing ugly is okay.”

Butler said Lingmerth made some “ugly” pars on his second nine, and offset a birdie at the fifth with a bogey at the sixth.

“I’m feeling really comfortable with my game and I’m feeling good about the course,” Lingmerth said.

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