Motivations are a funny thing in golf.
Whatever works in the moment is always the right thing. Always.
It didn’t dawn on Ryan Lynch at the time, but as he drove along the Murray Valley Highway towards Murray Downs this week, he’d found a beauty.
Lynch told his driving companion and fellow pro Alex Edge about watching Swede turned Aussie golfer Gabriel Hjertstedt at the 2007 Jacob’s Creek Open in Adelaide.
Hjertstedt, a student of legendary coach and Lynch’s father Dale, had years earlier been the first Swede to win on the US PGA Tour.
But this day on the range, he was hitting them sideways.
The younger Lynch recalled, from his role as caddie for David McKenzie that week, that his man was flushing the ball and that there was no chance Hjertstedt would beat the Victorian.
“Then I remember Gabe came off after the first round and all he could talk about was this provisional ball that he’d hit,” Lynch said today after an opening 66 that left him in second place at the Murray Open, two adrift of Matt Millar.
“Who comes off a course talking about how good a provisional ball they hit?
“Dad asked him about the first one and he said he lost it, but that the provisional was the perfect swing.
“So the whole time he was talking about everything that was positive about his round, everything that was great.
“And you wouldn’t believe it, but the bloke was right in the tournament later that week.
“So I was talking with `Edgey’ on the way over here and that was the attitude I adopted when I was playing really well (on tour 6-7 years ago) and what helped me put my best scores on the board.
“And just reminding myself of something as small as that gave me a bit of focus today.
“It was fun to recall that with Edgey. It was fun today. It’s `funner’ when you shoot 66.”
Lynch, effervescent as ever, was full value at Murray Downs today, doing his best to free-wheel and “not get in my own way”.
He eagled the 12th (his third hole) and turned in 33 before binning a 50m chip on the first hole for a second eagle.
More golden opportunities slipped narrowly by before a quality birdie on the long seventh capped his morning.
“I’m really happy with how I hit it; I’ve been struggling a bit, so it was very important for me to have a big focus on the shot I was trying to hit, rather than the swings I’m making,” he said.
“Because of lockdown, I’ve got a bit too technical and I’ve been doing a lot of coaching, so I’ve probably been thinking about things a little too much.
“But I putted nicely and everything went where I was looking. I trusted the routine a little more, which comes from playing a little more.”
Lynch’s touring career has been at the crossroads for a few years now and he’s largely opted to follow his father’s footsteps at Yarra Bend in Melbourne’s inner north.
He says that decision has helped free his mind.
“Covid probably actually helped make decisions for me,” he pondered.
“When it struck, I got a little more into the coaching and I finished my (PGA) bridging course in that time, too, and I’m leaning that way more now.
“But I appreciate this much more now.
“It’s so easy out here to take things for granted and the amount of times you get frustrated in a big event, or any event for that matter.
“You think about the first time you played a professional event and it’s so exciting.
“This bridging course and spending time with coaching has made me remember the excitement and the positivity you can focus on.
“I’m still very competitive and want to win, but the pressure is off to some extent because at least now I don’t have to play well to put food on the table.”