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He needed a bit of good fortune to make it this far.

After missing out in regional qualifying by a single shot, his hopes seemingly dashed, Singleton got in as an alternate when another player dropped out. He took advantage of the second chance in final qualifying, claiming the last spot into the Open by winning a sudden-death playoff, using a pair of wedges that were borrowed from a friend.

“It’s cool, isn’t it?” Singleton said, sounding like it still hasn’t quite sunk in.

He’s no weekend hacker, of course. Singleton attended Rend Lake College, a two-year school in Illinois, and finished seventh in the U.S. junior college championships. But his professional dreams were derailed by serious injuries to both knees, which required a total of six operations and pretty much kept him off the course for three years.

There comes a time when one must get on with the rest of his life, a reality that Singleton seemed to acknowledge by taking the factory job. But he never lost his love of golf, and with his knees healed and the British Open right in his own backyard, he mustered up the 140-pound qualifying fee (about $240) to give it a shot.

Talk about hitting the jackpot.

Singleton hopes this is only the beginning.

“This is just a steppingstone for me,” he said.

Singleton has never played in front of thousands of people, but any nervousness was eased by all the locals he knows around the course. On just about every hole during the practice round, he went over to the ropes to shake hands with an old friend or acquaintance.

When a reporter asked what it was like to play with Daly and Johnson, someone in the gallery shouted, “You should ask them what it’s like to play with John Singleton!”

“He’s going to win!” another yelled.

“Go get ‘em, Singy!” a third person bellowed.

When Singleton was done for the day, the opening round less than 24 hours away, he headed up to a ridge overlooking the sea for a television interview. That’s where he was spotted by those four girls, hanging out just beyond the course in hopes of meeting someone famous.

“What’s your name?” they asked.

John Singleton,” he answered.

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