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Jonathan Randolph riding momentum into St. Jude Classic after qualifying for first U.S. Open

MEMPHIS — A lot can happen in a year. Just ask Jonathan Randolph.

On June 6, 2016 Randolph, the former Ole Miss golfer, was playing in the Web.com Tour’s first tournament in the Dominican Republic, the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. On June 6 of this year, he sank a putt to earn the right to play for America’s championship.

It did not come without drama as Randolph had to sink a 30-foot putt in the rain to join a playoff for the final qualifying spot during Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier held at the Germantown and Ridgeway Country Clubs in Memphis. He then played one playoff hole in the rain on Monday night until play was suspended.

It took 36-plus holes and two days, but Randolph made a par putt to win the playoff and earn his first career start in the U.S. Open.

“I had about an hour and a half delay, and I had to wait then I had a 30-foot putt. I went back out and made it, so that was cool,” Randolph said. “It means a lot. I’ve played the amateur (at the U.S. Open). I haven’t gotten into as many tournaments as I’ve wanted to this year. I know it’s going to be a big summer and getting into this one’s huge.”

Once he completed the sectional qualifier Tuesday morning, Randolph then moved over to TPC Southwind, the site of this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he played nine holes in a practice round with fellow Rebel and reigning NCAA champion Braden Thornberry.

“It has been a very, very long couple of days,” Randolph said.

Last year, Randolph had to play on the Web.com Tour due to losing his PGA Tour card status after 2015. He managed to earn his card back for the 2017 season and has made the most of it. Of the 12 tournaments he’s played in this season, Randolph has made six cuts, including last October’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson. The highest finish for him came in the Wells Fargo Championship last month where he tied for eighth place, shooting 6-under.

“(My game) is the same as it’s been all summer,” Randolph said. “It’s just consistent off the tee. That’s what I worked on so much last year is getting it in the fairway. The putter is heating up. (TPC Southwind) is my stomping grounds here. Just got to go rest up and get ready. Every week’s a grind.”

The grind will not stop for Randolph. Now that he has booked his ticket for Erin, Wisconsin for next week’s U.S. Open, there is potential for him to play in nine straight tournaments starting with this week in Memphis and ending with the Canadian Open in Ontario, Canada in late July. But do not expect to see Randolph on every leaderboard in that span.

“I will definitely take a week off in there. That’s just too much,” Randolph said laughing.

Randolph tees off at 1:30 p.m. in Thursday’s first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.