Open 2014: John Singleton struggles on debut at Hoylake

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Hoylake
John Singleton at the Open
Singleton initially intended to be a marshal at Hoylake, before earning a place through Final Qualifying
The Open Championship 2014
Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake Date: 17-20 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobile & app, and Connected TVs

John Singleton's Open Championship hopes suffered a major blow as the crowd favourite recorded a first-round six-over 78.

But the 30-year-old factory worker from the Wirral said he enjoyed the attention of the Hoylake spectators.

"Every shot I hit, every step I took, someone was shouting nice things," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"I'd rather have shot six-under than six-over. But it's only a round of golf. I've just got to play better."

After a week of relentless media attention, Singleton - who won his place at Hoylake in a qualifying play-off - got off to a strong start.

This time last week, he was working in a Birkenhead factory, applying resin coating to wiring.

John Singleton
Club:Eastham Lodge
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Hillside)
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:10:32 BST

But he was greeted at the first tee on Thursday morning by a receptive Liverpool crowd, including co-workers who were given the day off to support their colleague.

He went on to answer a ninth-hole bogey with a birdie at 10 and, when he parred 11, he stood on the 12th tee still on level par.

"I scrambled amazingly well," he said. "I was having the time of my life out there.

"It's The Open and it's at home. It's the biggest tournament in the world. Of course I was going to be nervous. I was close to tears.

"But I'm not some Big Time Charlie who thinks he can win. I'm still one of the select few who get to play, so I just had to try and enjoy every moment, as I might never get the chance again."

But the final seven holes were a struggle, with six shots dropped in as many holes, and the Eastham Lodge member's hopes of a dream week to relaunch the professional career he gave up seven years ago now look less tangible.

Singleton, a Liverpool fan who celebrates his 31st birthday on Sunday, will still retain hope when he resumes at 15:33 BST on Friday.

"I'm well aware of the bad swings and the bad putts," he said. "I let the occasion get to me, which was understandable. Hopefully I'll be a bit more in tune with my swing tomorrow."

Aside from Singleton's efforts, Merseyside's other two representatives also now face a battle to make the halfway cut on one of their favourite local tracks.

After reaching the turn in level par following a bogey at the first cancelled out by a birdie at the fifth, Matthew Baldwin's round went sour over the final seven holes.

He dropped shots at 12 and 15 before going out of bounds to run up a double bogey at the last to sign for a four-over 76.

And fellow Southport golfer Tommy Fleetwood has work to do after a two-over 74.

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