Stumbling to a super finish and a U.S. Open spot at the N.J. sectional
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Stumbling to a super finish and a U.S. Open spot at the N.J. sectional

Credit: USGA

There are four people who probably aren’t the biggest fans of Christopher Crawford right now.

The 22-year-old amateur from Bensalem, Penn., who just recently finished his collegiate career at Drexel University in Philly, had it to 7 under par thru 33 holes of the 2016 U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook in Summit, N.J.

Crawford apparently had no knowledge that he was tied for the lead in the 36-hole, one-day event and on his way to Oakmont for the Open. Yeah, OK. He knew it, even if he didn’t know, he knew it. Three pars and I’m in. Easy enough, until you start thinking that way.

Crawford proceeded to bogey the 16th and 17th holes, which can be expected from a young player in his first taste of major championship pressure. Heading to the 18th tee, he was now tied for the last of six spots made available to the 98-player field with Kevin Foley, Pat Wilson, Andrew Turner and Michael McCoy.

Coming to the 18th hole, Crawford truly did not know where he stood in the tournament. According to Golfweek’s David Dusek, Crawford's caddie asked him as he walked to the final tee if he wanted to know.

“I said, ‘Sure, it’d be nice to know what was going on,’” Crawford said, as relayed by Dusek. “Then I rope-hooked my tee shot left on 18 into the first cut on the 13th fairway. My caddie, Ben, said this would be the coolest 4 I’d ever make, so credit to him for staying positive.”

As a former (and sometimes current) subpar looper myself, my initial reaction was, What the hell, Ben?

The last thing I want to do as a caddie is put more pressure on my player, which this definitely could have done. And as a player, the last thing i want to hear from my caddie after I just bogeyed the last two, especially on the last hole, was, “Hey, you almost did it!”

But Ben knew what he was doing. This was Ben Feld, Crawford's friend, his former teammate and, most recently, his head coach at Drexel. Feld took the time to pace the yardage, as well as his buddy’s racing thoughts and heart.
Crawford proceeded to play conservatively down the 13th fairway to leave himself a short wedge to the final green. After a somewhat lackluster approach to the par-5 finisher, Crawford had a 40-footer for birdie and a spot in the Open. No pressure, only the biggest shot and possibly moment of his young life.

He drained it. He is off to Oakmont with Jim Herman, Rob Oppenheim, Andy Pope, Michael Miller and Justin Hicks.

That birdie also locked up the sixth and final spot in the Open, locking out Foley, Wilson, Turner and McCoy.

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Kevin Power