He works in a factory. His knees are shot. He doesn’t have a sponsor to his name.
Conventional wisdom declares that John Singleton has no business playing in the Open Championship, but here he is—a 30-year-old factory worker playing in golf’s most ancient tournament alongside the best in the world.
Edward Malnick of the Telegraph reports that Singleton lives near the Royal Liverpool course where he hopes to make his mark this weekend. A forklift driver by trade, Singleton was an All-American golfer at Rend Lake College in Illinois (which finished 2nd in the country in 2005) and played on the Euro Tour before knee injuries seemingly wiped away his future in the sport.
Paul Newberry of AP (via the Columbus Dispatch) reports that Singleton took a factory job at Advanced Electrical Varnishes, but returned to golf after recovering from a series of extensive knee surgeries. He began playing again every day after work and clinched the final spot at the 2014 Open Championship by winning a regional, sudden-death playoff. He borrowed two wedges from a friend, made his shots and on Wednesday found himself playing practice rounds at Royal Liverpool with U.S. pros John Daly and Dustin Johnson.
“Do you play on the European Tour?” asked Johnson, trying to get to know his new playing partner.
“No, I work in a factory,” Singleton said.
Singleton started his first round at the Open with a monster drive, launching a ball down the middle of the first fairway. Kyle Porter of Eye On Golf captured a perfect Vine and GIF of Singleton reveling in his booming tee shot.
The drive marked the start of a movement for Singleton, who gathered a large herd of fans as he worked through the first round. It must be noted that most of those fans were Singleton’s co-workers, who had been given a paid day off to cheer him on.
“I hope he doesn’t turn up on Monday,” said Singleton’s boss, Jonathan Kemp. “That will mean he has done good.”
Sitting at six over after the first round, Singleton will have to put in a strong second day to make the cut for the weekend. He says he hopes to secure a sponsor and make golfing his day job, but he isn’t too worried about what happens at the Open.
“If it doesn’t go well this week…at least I have a job to go back to,” Singleton said.
With an attitude like that, it’s impossible not to cheer for Singleton, a humble man who plays the game with joy.
He put together $240 to pay the tournament's qualifying fee, and it’s safe to say no one is getting more for his money than the forklift operator living his dream.
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