Looking back on Monday's 36 holes of qualifying to win a berth in the U.S. Open, Chris Crawford figured that he would have gladly taken a putt on the final green to have an opportunity to get to Oakmont next week.
Crawford, who recently completed his golf eligibility at Drexel, indeed had that chance on his 36th hole, an uphill 40-foot putt with very little break. And the ball fell into the bottom of the cup, giving the Bensalem native a 73 for a 138 total and the sixth and final U.S. Open spot from Canoe Brook Golf Club in Summit, N.J. The U.S. Open is June 16-19 at Oakmont Country Club.
For Crawford, 22, who has played in three U.S. Amateurs, it was the thrill of a lifetime. Kids spend a long time practicing their putting and pretending the next putt is to win the U.S. Open. How about to win a berth in the U.S. Open?
"Yeah, that crossed my mind as something every kid does," he said. "If you had told me when I showed up this morning that I'd have a putt to make it through, I'd take it. Of course, I wouldn't have wished it to be 40 feet. To have a putt like that go in, you have to have some good fortune, but I'll take it."
Crawford, who plays out of Spring Mill Country Club in Ivyland, shot a 7-under-par 65 in the morning on Canoe Brook's South course, making six birdies on his second nine, which was the course's front nine.
At the start of his afternoon round on the North course, he said the thought he shared with his caddie, Drexel coach Ben Feld, was "to go out and be the medalist, go for the win. You don't want to get into the mind-set where you're holding on."
Crawford was even par through 15 holes but then bogeyed 16 and 17. He missed the green on 16. On 17, he had a makeable 20-foot putt for birdie but left it 3 feet short and missed the par.
"I was pretty nervous," he said. "That probably was the worst 3-foot putt I ever hit."
At the par-5 18th, he hit a 40-yard hook into the first cut of an adjacent hole. He played down that hole with his second shot, then lofted his third over the trees and onto the green. Make the putt and he's in. Miss the putt and he's looking at a five-man playoff for the last spot.
"It was a little outside right but I wanted to make sure I got it there," he said. "It looked good about halfway there but with a foot left, I thought it was going to miss left. I feel to my knees thinking it missed and it got in the left edge.
"Since it went in, the last two hours haven't felt real. It's unbelievable. I'm ecstatic."
Crawford, a three-time all-CAA performer in college who won last year's Golf Association of Philadelphia's Patterson Cup, did compete at Oakmont in the 2014 Pennsylvania Amateur.
"It's nice to have been on the property," he said. "But I know it's going to be a lot different."