It’s one thing to grab your first win on the PGA Tour, but it’s another to do so as a birthday present for your dad and an anniversary present for your parents.
That’s just what happened for former Arkansas two-time All-American golfer David Lingmerth, who won The Memorial Tournament in a playoff with Justin Rose last weekend in Dublin, Ohio while pocketing $1.1 million.
“It was such a good feeling,” noted Lingmerth, a native of Sweden. “Been working so hard, probably since about 14 or 15. I was pretty determined to turn pro in golf and obviously winning on the PGA Tour was one of my dreams.
“To finally get to achieve that is a pretty awesome feeling. I am feeling really good about that obviously, but now I am looking forward to getting a few more because it is a feeling I want to get back over and over.”
Ranked 212th in the world golf rankings coming in and the next-to-last qualifier for the tournament, the 27-year-old Lingmerth had the honor of getting a handshake after his win for the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who hosts the Memorial.
“What a great feeling,” Lingmerth said. “Jack is such a gentleman and such an ambassador for the game. He gave me a lot of encouraging words and he said he would likely see me win a few more tournaments out here hopefully.
“I will always have the memory in my life forever. Even better, it was my dad’s birthday, too, and my mom and dad’s anniversary and Jack and I actually faced time my parents after the press conference and Jack talked to my dad.
“It was a pretty awesome moment.”
Lingmerth, who finished 27 shots ahead of the struggling Tiger Woods, certainly had memories of his time as a Razorback and his friends in Arkansas right after winning the playoff.
“I try to make it back for a football game every fall and maybe a basketball game, too, and actually just a few weeks ago I was back in Fayetteville,” Lingmerth said.
“Because I didn’t play so good last year, I didn’t get to play the Players Championship and since I live down here in Ponte Verde (Florida) now, I didn’t want to stick around for the tournament when I wasn’t playing.
“So I decided to go back up to Arkansas and practice and hang out with the players and work on my game a little bit and I think it worked out because just a few weeks later, I was able to get the win.
“It’s just a good mojo coming back to Arkansas ever time. I just love it up there.”
Lingmerth started his college career at West Florida before matriculating to Arkansas.
“I went to a Division II school in Pensacola first and wanted to transfer to a Division I school,” Lingmerth said. “When I went through the process, I went to a few schools and just fell in love with the Arkansas facilities and the coaching staff and everything the University of Arkansas had to offer.
“I decided to go to Arkansas and I never second-guessed that decision and it was an awesome experience.”
He looks back on Arkansas’ 2009 run to the NCAA Championship match as his fondest memory as a Razorback.
“In 2009, we were able to make it to the NCAA Championship and the final match against Texas A&M,” Lingmerth said. “We had such a great run leading up to it and we got really close. We ended up losing on the last hole so we ended up finishing second.
“But just that team and the chemistry that we had was just awesome and I think we all grew from that and I think it helped all of our careers.
“We had Andrew Landry on that team and he is doing well out here now. We have had some great talent at the University of Arkansas the last few years so I am looking forward to having some of my buddies out here playing with me soon.”
Lingmerth had to make a putt on the 18th to force a playoff after Justin Rose’s tee shot hit a fan in the head, but he bounced back for a par.
“It is a really tough hole and I think they lengthened it a couple of years ago or so if I am right,” Lingmerth said. “You need a big tee shot into the green, which is very sloped and several.
“If you hit it in the wrong spot, you are going to have trouble getting a four and par is really good on that hole.”
Rose, a seven-time PGA winner, had won the 2010 Memorial and led by three entering Sunday, but lost six shots by the time he had made it to the eighth hole.
Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters Champ, shot a 65 on Sunday to grab the clubhouse lead, but ended up finishing tied for third.
“I felt like it was time for me to turn the ship around and I didn’t want to lose anymore,” noted Lingmerth, who had lost two previous playoffs on the PGA Tour. “I thought it was time to win one.
“I didn’t feel any pressure. I just thought that this is my time.”
Lingmerth finished in a tie for 33rd at the Crowne Plaza in Fort Worth and then didn’t make the cut at the Byron Nelson in Dallas while playing two weeks in very rainy and soggy conditions.
That meant he had not made the cut in four of his last five tournaments before taking on the course at the Memorial’s Muirfield Village Golf Club, just outside of Columbus.
“Texas must have been cursed this year with all that weather we had those two weeks,” Lingmerth said. “It was kind of crazy the mud an stuff that we had to deal with.
“I played okay at the Colonial, not great as I finished like tied for 33rd. Then I went to the Byron Nelson, which I had never played before and I just didn’t get off to a good start, played decent the second round, but missed the cut by a shot.
“That was really disappointing because I had my dad and brother there as they had surprised me and I wanted to play well for them.”
His previous highest payday had been $118,744.67 for finishing tied for the 13th at the Arnold Palmer Classic in March and his career winnings before the Memorial were just under $3.5 million.
The win made his decision to not play in his home country’s flagship event, the Swedish Masters, look like a brilliant one.
“Everything just went great for me,” Lingmerth said. “I was in a good place mentally, the weather was great and it turned out to be a fabulous week when I was able to pull it out.”
Lingmerth does not play a No. 2 golf ball as do a lot of the PGA pros.
“That started pretty early in my career,” Lingmerth said. “Just for some reason, lining a number two ball up I just thought ‘I am going to two-putt this.’
“So with a number three, I thought I can make a three on this hole. It is just a weird thing and I never liked playing with a No. 2.
“…It’s so dumb. It probably doesn’t do anything to me, but I am just staying away from it.”
Goran Lingmerth, Lingmerth’s uncle, was a kicker for the Cleveland Browns during the 1987 season.
“My uncle has been a big inspiration for me in my career,” Lingmerth said. “He came over as a exchange student from Sweden to just go to high school for a year and he was loving playing sports.
“He got into football and they put him in as a kicker, had a good high school career and got to to…Northern Arizona, kicked good there and set some records and played in the NFL for a year or two.
“He was the first Swedish player in the NFL. But after that he started working for Ping and I got my first set of Ping Clubs from him when I was 12 and he has been a huge help for me in my career and in my life since I came over here for college.”
The Memorial win gave Lingmerth a three-year PGA Tour exemption, an entry into the PGA Championship and next year’s Masters.
But it did not give him a free pass into the upcoming U.S. Open, something he had to try and qualify for the next day.
He left Muirfield Village at about 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night and had to get up around 4:25 a.m. to play in the sectional qualifying.
“It was so hard to go to sleep after winning and I don’t think that I lot of PGA winners have to do that the next day,” Lingmerth said. “Not that I really had to do it, but I really wanted to play in the U.S. Open so I thought I would give it a try.
“But after about two hours of sleep, I didn’t have great expectations, but I gave it a try, tried to have some fun. I didn’t have enough birdies and I missed by about four shots in the 36 holes there.
“I was happy to see (former Razorback) Sebastian Cappelen up there. He qualified at the same spot I did and made it through so there you go, another Hog in the USA Open and I am excited to see how he will do.”
He is not playing this weekend at the St. Jude’s in Memphis.
“I have two weeks off now and a fun summer to look forward to and hope to win a few more tournaments,” Lingmerth said.
David Lingmerth is kissed by his wife Megan after winning The Memorial.
Lingmerth Remembers Arkansas Fondly
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