David Lynn leads English contingent

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In just his third major championship, David Lynn shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday in the first round of the 77th Masters.

The 39-year-old Englishman is trying to become just the fourth player in Masters history to win on his first trip to Augusta.

Lynn earned his way into the field this week by finishing second in the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., finishing 8 shots behind winner Rory McIlroy.

Lynn, the 2004 KLM Open winner on the European Tour, isn't sure how to explain his recent emergence in major championships.

"It might be that I have been drafting away for 16 years," he said, "so I guess I have a lot of experience behind me."

Lynn got some good advice from his good friend and countryman David Gilford, who played in the Masters twice during the 1990s.

"David said don't be too intimidated by the greens," Lynn said. "There are birdies out there. Try to be aggressive when you can be."

Lynn wasn't the only Englishman with fine play Thursday.

Lee Westwood, who finished in a tie for third at Augusta last year, shot a 2-under 70 on Thursday. Justin Rose, who tied for eighth in 2012, also shot 70.

Nick Faldo was the last Englishman to win the Masters in 1996.

Lynn is 2 shots back of the lead held by Marc Leishman, who had a 66 on Thursday that included a 31 on the back nine.

The majors are notorious for having little-known players jump out to early leads but then succumb to the pressure.

At the PGA Championship, Lynn kept his composure through 72 holes under the most intense pressure of his career. Based on that performance, it wouldn't be surprising to see him hang around the lead at Augusta through the weekend.

"When I know I'm on my game, I know I can compete at that sort of level," he 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."

On the ninth hole Thursday, Lynn's caddie smiled at his boss and told him that he was leading the Masters.

"I'd rather be leading it Sunday afternoon," Lynn replied.

Though Leishman would pass him later in the day, Lynn could use that moment as a source of encouragement.

"It's obviously not a bad thing to see your name up there leading the Masters and something you could always look back on," he said. "But you know there's a lot to be done for the rest of the week, and hopefully I can keep my name up there."