SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — David Lingmerth is starting to come into his own, perhaps just in time to come into posession of the Wanamaker trophy.
Lingmerth shot 5-under 67 at Whistling Straits on Thursday to own second alone, a shot behind Dustin Johnson, at the PGA Championship. The score is even better considering the difficulty of the afternoon scoring conditions.
His name might be a surprising one to the casual golf fan, but the Swede has been pushing through this year into the game’s upper echelon. In June, Lingmerth polished off his first PGA Tour win, taking the Memorial in a playoff against Justin Rose. After a sloppy week at the Travelers in Connecticut, Lingmerth has finished in the top six in three of his last four starts, including a T-6 effort at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He’s been building to this opportunity.
The 28-year-old, however, still hasn’t showed that he has the gusto to put up those kinds of performances in the majors. He’s never been in the Masters, which will change next April. He hasn’t been in the U.S. Open since a nice T-17 showing in 2013 and was T-74 in the British Open last month. He missed the cut in his one prior PGA start.
A guy has to start somewhere. Whistling Straits could well be the place.
A Lingmerth win would not only be breaking new ground personally, but he’d also be the first Swedish man to win a major championship. He’d have done it before Henrik Stenson, who has finished in the top four in four of his last 11 major starts and has nine-career top-10 major finishes, including consecutive top-three finishes in the PGA.
Jesper Parnevik, who, along with his America-based family, is now a Swedish reality star, earned seven major top-10s in his career.
In 2008, Robert Karlsson finished in the top 10 in the first three majors of the year.
It’s been three years since Carl Pettersson made a feeble run at trying to catch Rory McIlroy as he lapped the field at Kiawah Island, but the T-3 was his best-ever major effort.
Four Swedish women have won majors, including Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam, who bagged 10 in her illustrious career.
The homeland would enjoy Lingmerth putting another one on the board. Speaking of putting one on the board, Lingmerth, who was a two-time All-American at the University of Arkansas, is the nephew of Goran Lingmerth, who briefly was a place kicker for the Cleveland Browns in one game during the strike-shortened 1987 season.
After the brief football career, Goran Lingmerth turned from one sport to another, becoming a sales rep for Ping. Lingmerth is one of their staffers.
“When I moved over here for college, he was like my second dad,” David Lingmerth said during the Memorial. “He helped me out with whatever a little college kid can use as help. He’s been a big influence.”
He added, “I got my first set of clubs when I was 12 from him and if I didn’t have him, I might not even have played golf. And obviously he was a professional athlete, and just mentally he’s been the type of guy, he’s pushed me and tried to get me to the mindset that I can do whatever I set my mind to. He’s been a good inspiration in so many ways.”
Lingmerth won’t have to worry about being iced before Friday’s second round, either. He starts bright and early, at 7:55 a.m. local time.