Forklift Driver John Singleton Hangs with Pros at Open Championship

HOYLAKE, England — On Monday morning, John Singleton will report back to work as a forklift driver. Before then, he will have lived the dream that so many amateurs cherish but never come close to.

Singleton works at a resin factory a few minutes from Hoylake and was persuaded by friends to enter qualifying. With just three spots up for grabs at Hillside, he borrowed a couple of wedges from a friend and, sure enough, qualified.

And so he found himself teeing up alongside Marc Warren and Peter Uihlein, taking with him a huge local following. Ironically, he had been due at Hoylake to work as a marshall — never did he think that he would be on the other side of the ropes.

John Singleton 600

The 30-year-old clocks off work at 4:30 p.m. every day and heads over to Eastham Lodge to pound golf balls. He once dreamt of becoming a pro, but gave up on those hopes long ago, although he is clearly a formidable player.

But how would he cope in front of such vast crowds?

This is how he coped: Before he struck his opening drive, he encouraged the crowd to give him a roar, in the same way Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter did at the Ryder Cup in 2012. The crowd duly rose to its feet and gave him plenty of noise. Singleton was clearly a very nervous man, but he absolutely crushed his opening drive. How much of it he will remember is anybody’s guess.

It quickly emerged that Singleton wasn’t along to make up the numbers. He parred the first eight holes before dropping his first shot of the day at the ninth. Out in 36, he was five ahead of Uihlein and three adrift of Warren.

And if he thought the cheers he got at the first were loud, it was as nothing to what happened when he holed out for a four at the 10th for his first birdie of the day. Incredibly, the local hero was back to level par.

A wayward drive cost him a double-bogey six at the 12th, but Singleton’s smile was still as wide as the nearby Dee Estuary. The guy was having a ball out there.

John Singleton swing 600

Unfortunately, he lost his way somewhat over the closing holes, with dropped shots at the 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th, and his great adventure ended with a 6-over 78. But he remained upbeat afterwards.

“I am disappointed with my finish, but I have just loved this experience,” he said. “It is a dream come true. The crowd were just unbelievable out there. I hadn’t planned to encourage them to cheer me on the opening tee, it was just a spur of the moment thing. Was I nervous? What do you think? I was terrified of duffing it, but the adrenaline was really pumping and I just smashed my opening drive.

“As for tomorrow, I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy the whole experience again, and soak it all up. It’s been awesome, but I know that I can do so much better.”

It was also quite a day for Ashley Chesters, who qualified after winning the European Amateur Championship. The Englishman birdied his opening hole and went on to put together a superb round of 70.

Not quite such a memorable round for Bradley Neil, the British Amateur champion, though. He started with two bogeys and then ran up a seven at the fifth on his way to a bitterly disappointing 79. 

Related Link: Complete Open Championship Coverage

More Open Championship Coverage:
Tiger Woods Shoots 3-Under, Getting ‘Sharper and Stronger’
Ernie Els Has A Brain Cramp On First Hole
Tiger Woods Hits Guy In The Face With Drive
Henrik Stenson Breaks (Another) Club at Open Championship
Inside The Ropes: Player Photos & Reactions From Royal Liverpool
Golfstradamaus: 2014 Open Championship
Erik Compton Living in the Now in 1st Trip to Open Championship
Top 9 Moments in Open Championship History
R&A Tries to Curb Betting, Has Players Sign Waivers
Aye Aye Captain: SpongeBob GolfPants Return!
9 Best Groups To Watch at 2014 Open Championship
– Ian Poulter Has Arsenal Backing Him at Open Championship
– Despite Ranking, No One Better Than Martin Kaymer Right Now
– Best Fans at the Open Championship
– Pics: 2014 Open Championship Preview
– Top 9 Moments at Royal Liverpool
– Tiger Woods Believes He Can Win 2014 Open Championship
– 9 Craziest Open Championship Fan Outfits
– Will Ferrell Picks ‘The French’ To Win Open Championship
– Open Championship 2014: PUMA Golf Players Scripting
– Open Championship 2014: Nike Golf Players Scripting
– Open Championship 2014: Under Armour Scripting
– Open Championship 2014: adidas Golf Player Scripting
Open Championship 2014: Oakley Scripting
– By the Numbers: Open Championship History
– The Odds: Adam Scott, Justin Rose Co-Favorites at The Open
– 9 Weird & Wild Open Championship Moments
– A Look at Open Championship Fashion Through the Years
– The Open Championship: Royal Liverpool Hole-By-Hole
– 2014 Open Championship Round 1 Tee Times and Pairings
– Many Things, Like Ladybugs, Have Filled Claret Jug
– Oh, the Places Golf’s Majors Trophies Have Been
– The Magnificent Seven: Who To Follow at Open Championship
– 9 Best Players Never to Win the Open Championship
– 15 Years Later: Jean Van de Velde’s Collapse at Carnoustie
– Open Championship Flashback: Tiger Woods Storms Hoylake in ’06 
– Drone Captures Incredible Footage of Royal Liverpool 
– Factory Worker Qualifies For The Open With Borrowed Clubs 
– Daly Can’t Wait to See Tiger at Royal Liverpool

RELATED STORIES

Reed Penalized Two Strokes For Improving Lie
Tour
Tiger Clowns Thomas After Outdriving Him
Tour
Chamblee, Aussie Pros Blast Reed For Rules Infraction
Tour