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There’s more to this surprising Bay Hill contender than meets the eye

david lipsky at bay hill

ORLANDO — The touring golf professional David Lipsky hopes to play his way into the next week’s Players Championship. All he has to do is win this week. It’s possible. After two rounds of one-under 71 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he’s within chasing distance of the lead here at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

That he’s in the field at all, well — it’s a miracle!

Lipsky was the API’s second alternate. Second alternates in small-field, big-purse invitationals like the Arnold Palmer Invitational rarely get in. And when the forecast is for four days of warm, beautiful weather, as the tournament will be blessed with this week? Well, as it is written: Good luck, dude! 

Still, after a T55 finish last week at the Honda Classic, Lipsky, who is 33, made the drive from West Palm Beach to Orlando, just in case.

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“I was in at Puerto Rico,” Lipsky said on Thursday, referring to the alternate Tour event being played this week. “I had a flight there for Wednesday afternoon, from Orlando, figuring I’d be on it. I figured, ‘Second alternate, there’s no chance.’ But then Bryson DeChambeau withdrew, so I was first alternate. You never want to wish for an injury for another player, but I got a call Wednesday morning that Jason Day withdrew and I was in.”

In the tournament, that is. But not in the Wednesday pro-am. Lipsky is accustomed to getting funny looks when meeting his pro-am playing partners.

“They know my name, they’ve seen it on a sheet, but when I show up, I’m used to getting second looks,” Lipsky said.

David Lipsky’s father is Jewish and from Los Angeles. David Lipsky’s mother was born in Korea, is not Jewish and is now an American citizen. David more resembles his mother, Yon Suk Lipsky, and inherited his religion from his father, Aaron Lipsky.

“I wouldn’t say I’m at all observant, but I’m definitely Jewish,” Lipsky said. “As far as I know, I’m the only Jewish player out here. And when I play in Los Angeles or in New York, with the big Jewish populations there, I hear from Jewish fans.”

Actually, there are at least two other active Jewish Tour pros, Daniel Berger and Max Homa.

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Lipsky missed the cut at Riviera last month where, it happens, two Jewish golfers have won, and they are both from Los Angeles: Homa, for sure, and Corey Pavin. Kind of. OK, not really. Pavin, the 1995 U.S. Open winner, was raised as a Jew but became a born-again Christian in the early 1990s. He won the Los Angeles stop in 1994 and ‘95.

Bruce Fleisher, the late Miami golf legend who won the 1968 U.S. Amateur, was Jewish.

Al Geiberger? Nope.

David Lipsky? Yes.

Lipsky played with an interesting group for the first two rounds. Stepping in for Day, he got placed with two other notable and affable golfers: Marc Leishman, a tall Aussie, and Tyrrell Hatton, a powerful Englishman who leans to round in his middle.

And then there was Lipsky, with his Korean and American and Jewish background and medium build. (Maybe 5-10ish, maybe 160ish.) Three golfers who have played the world in one group. Cool to see.

This David Lipsky is very good at golf. He won on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020. He won twice on the Asian Tour. He’s won in Switzerland, and he’s won in South Africa.

“After I won in Switzerland, a guy came up to me and said, ‘Would you be interested in becoming an Israeli citizen and representing Israel in golf in the Olympics?’ And I said, ‘No, I appreciate it, but I’m American.

“A lot of times, when I get to the first tee at pro-ams, guys will say, ‘Oh, we thought you’d be Polish or something.’ And I’m like, ‘Nope — I’m American.’”

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael.Bamberger@Golf.com

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