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By Martyn Herman
GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - Englishman David Lynn's career has been transformed since a stunning runner-up finish at the U.S. PGA last year, so much so that he can finally say he is good enough for the British Open.
For most of his professional career the 39-year-old has been a solid tour journeyman, grinding out a comfortable living without attracting the headlines of compatriots such as Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
Pragmatism rather than romance was Lynn's driving force which is why he decided against breaking his schedule to try to qualify for the British Open and why on Thursday at Muirfield he will compete in his home major for only the second time.
"It's great to be back," Lynn, who finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Kiawah Island in only his second major last year, told Reuters on Wednesday.
"To be honest the reason I've only played one is that I've been a bit averse to going through qualifying really because of how it sat in the schedule.
"Also my mindset was very much that if I'm having to go through qualifying then I'm not really good enough to be playing in it. That's the reason I'm only playing my second one.
"The qualifying always sits right in the middle of big tournaments and first and foremost I had to make sure I had a job for the following year so playing in those tournaments was important for points and rankings.
"It was a sacrifice I had to make."
Lynn's reward for the hard graft arrived last year when he pocketed an $865,000 check for his PGA performance - by far the biggest pay day of his career.
It also earned him an invitation to the 2013 PGA Tour on which he has played more than 15 events this year, finishing fourth at the Honda Classic and second at the Wells Fargo Championship.
While he can still walk around Muirfield in relative obscurity, Lynn, who has one tournament win in 18 years as a professional, has attracted quite a following in the States.
"I'm really enjoying the crowds out there," he said recently of his first year on the American Tour.
"They're a bit more interactive with the players, they like to have a chat and I like that side of things."
With his PGA card already assured for next year, Lynn is in the unusual position of having no pressure as he gets back to the links golf he grew up with at Muirfield.
"I've retained my ranking in the world's top 50 since the PGA and now I'm looking for another big finish now to catapult myself further up the rankings," he said.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge this week. It's back to hitting those low two-iron stingers which is something I'm comfortable with. Good players can adapt their games."
He will not, however, be able to count on his 1891 Queen's shilling that he used as a ball marker when he won his first tournament nine years ago.
"No, I've lost loads of lucky ball markers since then, now I've got a crappy old five pence piece, but it's a special one," he said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)