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"I feel like the way I played that day, I deserved to make it," Millard said. "I've never called a penalty on myself for grounding a club in the bunker. Unfortunately, it happened at the absolutely worst time."
The timing couldn't have been better for Sam Love, who just finished his college career at Alabama-Birmingham. He was the second alternate in Memphis; when Millard dropped out, Love got in.
"I really respect him for that," Love said in the bowels of the Pinehurst clubhouse after a practice round. "He could've easily just played this tournament and nobody would've ever known."
When Love tees off Thursday afternoon in the opening round, Millard will be at home in Tennessee. He plans to watch at least some of the tournament on TV, but knows it won't go down easily.
"I haven't really watched any of the coverage yet," said Millard, a two-time All-American during his college career at Middle Tennessee State. "I'm sure I will at some point, especially the last round. I've played Pinehurst before. I like watching tournaments, especially on courses I've played before."
Of course, he'd much rather be playing.
"Unfortunately, this is what happens in life," Millard said. "Hopefully, I'll be back there one day."
He's already dealt with issues far more serious than missing a golf tournament. His father Eddie, who steered him to the game and drove him to all his tournaments as a kid, died in April 2013 from leukemia. Millard's mother, Debbie, can barely get around after being stricken with multiple sclerosis. Jason, in fact, still lives with his mom when he's not on the road trying to qualify for PGA Tour and Web.com events. He pays her bills, does the grocery shipping, takes care of odds and ends around the house.
Millard was thinking about his dad when trying to decide whether to disqualify himself from the Open.
"He was pretty much my best friend," Millard said. "When stuff would happen, I always called him first. In this instance, I definitely would've called him first, talked to him about it. Unfortunately, I couldn't."
Millard is only 24, with plenty of golf still ahead of him. He surely will have more chances to qualify for the Open.
That said, there are no guarantees in life.
This might be as close as he gets.
If that's the case, at least he can go through the rest of his years with a clear conscience.
"I'm at peace," Millard said, "with my decision."
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