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Drexel's Crawford Rides Dramatic Performance Into U.S. Open

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The U.S. Open is set for next week at Oakmont Country Club just outside of Pittsburgh.

This year the field will include Drexel University's Chris Crawford who showed quite the flair for the dramatic in qualifying for the tourney.

Crawford, who recently wrapped up his college career, earned the opportunity to play in the Open by finishing in a four-way tie for third at a sectional qualifier in Summit, N.J. this past Monday. He actually was tied for the tourney lead 15 holes into the second and final round and looked to be in great shape, but then bogeys on 16 and 17 left him in jeopardy of missing the cut for Oakmont.

"I knew I needed to make a four on (par five) 18," Crawford tells KYW Newsradio. "But I really wasn't very confident in how I was hitting the ball and I hit a couple bad shots off that tee and then played down the wrong fairway and then over trees, back on to the green. Got a little fortunate that the ball ended up on the green."

Full podcast with Drexel University's Chris Crawford (5:20) 

So the Bensalem native was left with a 40-foot putt for birdie and a pretty simple scenario - make the putt and he would head to Oakmont.

"Knew we had to have to have the putt," Crawford says. "Otherwise it would've been a playoff and a putt of that kind of length doesn't go in very often."

But sometimes it does.

"I think about halfway there it looked good," Crawford says. "I knew it had a chance. As it started to get closer and closer to the hole it did dive a little left on me and the last couple of feet I was just praying it was going to hang on. It kind of caught that left edge and dropped."

And with that Crawford became the first-ever Drexel golfer to qualify for the Open.

"It's starting to settle in after a couple days here, finally," Crawford says. "First day especially was a little overwhelming. Then as each day of the week has kind of gone by, it's starting to become a little bit more real. Starting to settle down just a little."

While this is an incredible opportunity for Crawford, it is important to note that success on the links is nothing new for him. He was a three-time, first-team All-CAA selection with the Dragons and as a senior he had eight top-ten finishes including a pair of individual wins.

The first round of the U.S. Open is set to begin on Thursday, June 16th.

"Goals are to show up and play well," Crawford says. "Show up and prepare as if it's any other event, even though it's a little different. Hopefully earlier in the week, I'll be able to get out there and kind of take in the place. Try to get the 'awe' part of things a little out of the way. By the time Thursday morning rolls around, I'm sure it's going to be a nervous moment. The first round of the tournament is going to be a very different feeling than what I've experienced before. But it is still a golf course and if you hit good shots and you hit good putts, things are still going to work out."

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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