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As far as summer breaks go, Colin Prater’s is straight from a 2011 Carlsberg advert.

Rather than enjoying his third week of holiday from teaching science at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, the 29-year-old has other plans.

Just the small matter of teeing it up in the 124th US Open at Pinehurst No.2.

“It’s been a crazy last couple of days,” he told after passing his final qualifying test at Pronghorn Resort in Oregon.

“I had pretty low expectations. You want to believe you can make it happen when you tee it up but to play 36 holes and accomplish that goal is remarkable.”

On his third attempt at surviving ‘golf’s longest day’, Prater punched his ticket to a major championship debut in North Carolina.

Across ten sites, 44 spots in the final line-up were on offer. And with rounds of 68 and 73, he clinched one of them.

For many, teeing it up alongside Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy would be enough to get the juices flowing. For Prater, it’s simpler than that.

“Everything is still kind of in limbo,” he said. “The coolest thing right now is knowing I’m going to get a courtesy car.”

Outside of playing all four rounds, Prater – who also teaches boys and girls golf – admits he has two main goals.

“It’s really going to be about soaking it all in but I’m hoping I can shake Tiger Woods’ hand at some point, he was my idol growing up.

“Wyndham [Clark] is a Colorado kid and I know he’s the reigning champion, but it would be really cool to try sneak out with him and play nine holes on a practice day.

“We’ll see what happens, though, I know I’m going to enjoy it, it’ll be a ton of fun and let’s try to make some memories.”

Prater won’t head to Pinehurst to make up the numbers, either. Only five players finished under-par at the site in Bend, where he emerged as one of two qualifiers. In 2020, the two-time Colorado Golf Association Player of the Year became just the second golfer in 35 years to win the CGA’s Amateur and Match Play in the same year.

Formerly of the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, Prater had eyes on the tour life dream but those never came to fruition.

“That’s every college kid’s dream,” he said of making a living from the game.

“But priorities change, I fell in love with teaching and, with my wife, decided we didn’t want to move. My biggest accomplishment is having my little girl, and we are super lucky to have another one coming in July.”

Balancing school with being a dad has kept practice time to a minimum but sneaking out to warm up and reaching the latter stages of the 2023 US Amateur has Prater dreaming of a Jack Nicklaus medal.

“I mean, making match play and reaching the final 64 showed me that, at times, I have the game to compete with some of the best players in the world. But this Spring I really haven’t played a lot of golf.

“I probably get about 30 minutes to an hour of chipping and putting every other day. Maybe I’ll sneak out after practice for four or five holes, but nothing like in college.

“Mentally preparing for that sort of environment is going to be the most difficult test. If I can just block out the outside stuff and focus on playing golf, then I think I’ll do pretty well.”

A 26-hour trip separates Prater and the ex-Ryder Cup venue, but he’s ready. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I don’t know how many more times I’m gonna be able to say ‘yeah, I played in a freaking US Open’. Let’s see if I can make some magic happen.”

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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