Factory to fairway: John Singleton has best back-story at British Open

In this photo taken with a mobile phone, spectators take a selfie with John Singleton of England after his television interview at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Wednesday July 16, 2014 where the British Open Golf championship will start Thursday July 17. (AP Photo/Paul Newberry)In this photo taken with a mobile phone, spectators take a selfie with John Singleton of England after his television interview at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Wednesday July 16, 2014 where the British Open Golf championship will start Thursday July 17. (AP Photo/Paul Newberry)
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HOYLAKE, England — John Singleton had just finished up a practice round along the Irish Sea when four young girls approached him from the other side of the fence.

“Are you famous?” one of them asked.


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“I’m playing in the Open,” Singleton replied, trying to keep a straight face. “That’s pretty famous, ain’t it?”

Actually, there’s no more improbable player at Royal Liverpool than this 30-year-old factory worker, who lives 10 minutes down the road and qualified for the British Open on his very first try.

Singleton strolled around the course Wednesday with two-time major champion John Daly and PGA Tour regular Dustin Johnson, a pair of Americans who didn’t know the stunning back-story of the real-life Rocky in their group.

John Singleton of England looks at his ball on the 3rd green during a practice round ahead of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Wednesday July 16, 2014. The British Open Golf championship starts Thursday July 17. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

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John Singleton of England looks at his ball on the 3rd green ... more >

Johnson introduced himself on the first tee but didn’t inquire further until they got to the third hole.

“Do you play on the European Tour?” Johnson finally asked.

“No,” Singleton replied, “I work in a factory.”


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He is the epitome of why this tournament is called the “Open,” a guy with no resume to speak of playing his way into golf’s oldest championship. This is the sort of rags-to-riches stuff normally reserved for the movies, the nobody who becomes somebody against all odds.

Singleton’s real job — at least for now — is at a resin factory not far from Royal Liverpool. He holds down the 8 a.m.-to-4:30 p.m. shift at Advanced Electrical Varnishes, where he drives a forklift and mixes the resin, a thick compound used as a waterproof coating for wiring, circuit boards and other electrical devices.

“He does a full job for us,” said his boss, Jonathan Kemp, who’ll be at the course to cheer Singleton on and gave all the employees a paid holiday so they could attend.

After Singleton gets off work, he usually heads to a local golf course to practice for several more hours — especially in the summer, when the sun hangs in the sky until nearly 10 o’clock.

“I want to get a sponsor so I can continue to play golf,” he said, knowing he would likely need to make the cut for that to happen. “I have to work full time. I want to play full time.”

Not that he’s not thankful for his blue-collar job.

“If it doesn’t go well this week,” Singleton said, “at least I have a job to go back to.”

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