Monday, May 21, 2018

'I work in afactory'

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 asked.

"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 back-story of the real-life Rocky in their group. 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."

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 stuff normally reserved for the movies.

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 electrical devices.

"He does a full job for us," said his boss, Jonathan Kemp, who 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 hours.

"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."

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 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.

That was met with squeals that would've put Beatlemania to shame.

"I saw you on news!" one of the girls said excitedly.

"Can we get a selfie?"

Singleton posed with each of them.

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