John Singleton’s story is the stuff of fairy tales. The 30-year-old nobody will tee it up in two weeks’ time with the greatest players in the game in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Who is John Singleton? He’s a factory worker from the Wirral, England, who stumped up the £140 ($240) entrance fee to try to fulfill a dream. It paid off. Singleton took one of the three spots at Final Qualifying at Hillside to book himself a starting time alongside Tiger, Phil, Rory, Adam, and the rest of the world’s elite.
“I’m overwhelmed by it all,” Singleton told the Liverpool Echo newspaper. “It’s a great achievement. I never thought that I would play in The Open. It’s not sunk in that I’m going to play in The Open in Hoylake. At a local course to me. I can’t believe it.”
Singleton now just has to get the time off work. He is employed at a resin factory in Birkenhead, not far from Royal Liverpool.
“I’m just a production person on a shop floor. I start at 8 a.m. and finish at 4:30 p.m. I make batches of thick resin and I made five batches of it last week. It’s three and a half tons per batch. It’s a resin that goes over wires and it’s used for waterproofing. I was just lucky to get the job. I’ve worked there for over a year.
“I will find out if I can have two weeks off work so that I can play in The Open. I hope I’m given it.”
He was one of the lucky 12 to get spots at Royal Liverpool from Final Qualifying. That’s the maximum number of spots available to dreamers like Singleton.
Should it be more? Perhaps. I remember the days when guys like Singleton would have the chance of about 16 spots at each of four Final Qualifying venues, back in the days when Final Qualifying took place on the Sunday and Monday of Open week.
Nowadays the Open isn’t as open as it used to be for the dreamers.
What is glaringly obvious is that those 12 available spots should only be for players such as Singleton, mini-tour guys, club professionals and amateurs such as Ireland’s Paul Dunne. The latter, a college player at UAB, took the first spot at Woburn.
Tom Lewis, Robert Rock and Richard Green were also at Woburn. All three have full European Tour cards.
Final Qualifying should not be avenues for Lewis and other regular European Tour players, since they already have so many other routes into the championship. Indeed, Marc Warren and Jamie McLeary took two of the three spots at Glasgow Gailes. Both have full playing rights for this year’s European Tour.
So well done to John Singleton, Paul Dunne and the other minnows who have achieved a lifetime’s ambition. However, the R&A should give the little guys more of a chance and state that Final Qualifying is not open to players with full European Tour cards.
The dreamers deserve a fairer crack at the qualifying for the game’s greatest championship.