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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 23, 2003

Lynch making run for player of year

By Bill Kwon

"Maturity and having the experience of teaching helped me," John Lynch says. "And a lot of hard work."

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Let me tell you about this guy John Lynch. Not the All-Pro safety from the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a local golf pro who is making waves.

John Lynch, the golfer who also surfs, often gets asked if he is John Lynch, the football player.

"I get mistaken for him . . . until they see me," said the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Lynch.

Lynch, a teaching pro at the Aloha Academy of Golf at the Ko'olau Golf Course, is among the top four in the running for the 2003 Aloha Section PGA Player of the Year. He's fourth in the latest point standings behind Kevin Hayashi, Beau Yokomoto and Kevin Carll.

The 28-year-old Lynch won the AT&T Stroke Play Championship and the Aloha Section PGA Club Pro Championship. The latter qualified him for the CPC Western Regional in Olympia, Wash., last week where he finished tied for fifth, just three shots behind the winner when rain washed out the final round.

"Too bad. I was really looking forward to playing the final round. I was hitting the ball well as the week went on," said Lynch, who had rounds of 68 and 70 to earn $5,600. "But fifth place wasn't so bad, considering there were 144 players."

Lynch qualified for the 2004 National PGA Club Championship in Nashport, Ohio, June 24-27.

Winning the local club pro championship at Hokuli'a in August was a breakthrough for Lynch, who first worked at the Kapalua Resort in 1997 after graduating from New Mexico State.

Lynch went through the same Professional Golf Management School at New Mexico State as Carll, who is the head golf professional at Ko Olina and Matt Hall, Turtle Bay Resort's director of golf.

"Kevin and I were best friends in college. We'd go surfing together," Lynch said.

In New Mexico?

"No, we'd drive to California and Mexico during the spring break," Lynch explained. "So I knew I wanted to go to Hawai'i some day."

A Delaware native, Lynch grew up surfing because he lived close to the beach at home. But the warm blue Pacific has the cold gray Atlantic beat anytime, Lynch said.

Still, he never thought about coming to Hawai'i until his final semester in college when he got a job offer from Kapalua.

"I flew to Maui the week after I graduated," said Lynch, who worked at the Bay and Plantation courses. In 2000, he went east to work at a private country club in Connecticut, but found himself back on Maui the following year, this time at Ka'anapali.

He left the Islands again to work in Mexico at a golf academy for the David Leadbetter School and then last year at Hilton Head, S.C., where he qualified in the local section there for the MCI Heritage Classic. But he missed the cut in his only PGA Tour appearance.

Again, Hawai'i called. And Lynch returned to join Randy Chang's Aloha Academy of Golf, handling its junior golf program. Lynch has been at the Ko'olau Golf Club since June. He has been winning tournaments since.

A month after his first victory locally, he captured the Aloha Section PGA Stroke Play Championship at Mauna Kea, winning by three strokes over Carll.

"He was a decent player in college. But ever since he left Hawai'i and came back, he got serious about his game," Carll said.

"He always had hit the ball well before, but now his putting is getting much better," said Hayashi, the Aloha Section's match-play champion, who is looking forward to meeting Lynch in next month's Hawai'i State Open for personal bragging rights.

"Maturity and having the experience of teaching helped me," Lynch said in explaining the reason for his late-blooming success. "And a lot of hard work."

Lynch also hopes to make the 12-man professional team for the Governor Burns Challenge Cup.

"I'll definitely play if I'm picked," said Lynch, who's currently ranked eighth in the Governor's Cup point standings.

Before then, Lynch will soothe his wanderlust by going to the Cayman Islands to teach a little golf and then play a little golf in a tournament in New Mexico before returning home for more surfing and golf.

"I enjoy surfing. Five, six feet (waves). Not the monster stuff," said Lynch, who minored in music in college and plays a mean bass guitar as well.

Bill Kwon can be reached at bkwon@aloha.net.