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MERSEYSIDE, England - John Singleton missed the weekend cut by a mere two strokes Friday at The 143rd British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. Singleton was a 2005 All-American at Rend Lake College in southern Illinois where he played two years for coach Dave Smith's Warriors.
His first hole Thursday was a highlight. After re-addressing the ball due to a coughing fan in the stands, Singleton striped his first drive down the center of the fairway, nearly holed out from about 20 yards, and put it in the cup for par. So much for first major championship jitters. He carded a 78 (+6) after running into trouble on holes 12-14, and again at 16-17. Three or four miscues after the turn and he fell about 80 spots.
John Singleton surveys the course with his Open Championship caddy, and good friend, Ally Haddow. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Friday was different though. He bogied one hole and parred the rest on the front nine. A repeat one-under on hole 10, followed by back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 (another on 18) put Singleton at +4 after 36 holes and launched him back up the leaderboard to tie for 89th place against 156 of the best golfers in the world. The cut line at +2, Singleton had barely missed suiting up this weekend, but was one of only two golfers in the field to go -2 or better on Friday and not make the cut.
His story is like a great script. The 30-year-old Merseyside local became an international storyline - working on the factory floor by day, working on his game at night. Media outlets like the BBC, Golf Channel, FOX Sports, New York Times, Boston Globe and ESPN ran features on the Cinderella-man in golf spikes. His can't-quit commitment to doing what he loves, and the way he qualified for golf's oldest major in a four-way playoff on borrowed clubs, was the feel-good hit of Hoylake.
It's too bad The Open fairways this weekend will be without Singleton's beaming smile, and his fist-pump celebration when his putt finds the bottom of the cup. But Singleton should spend his birthday at The Open Championship on Sunday, soaking up the final moments of his first major. His pint won't be the Claret Jug, but that's okay. There's plenty to celebrate.
More about The British Open and its leaderboard can be found online at http://www.theopen.com.