Southgate ends The Open on a high
Matthew Southgate was King of the Final Qualifiers at The 145TH Open at Royal Troon.
Just over a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, the 27-year old from Southend-on-Sea carded rounds of 71, 71, 72 and 69 to finish the Championship close to the top-ten on the leaderboard on one under par 283.
“Words can’t describe how good that felt walking down that last hole,” Southgate said. “It’s something I’ve dreamt about since I was about ten years old and it lived up to all my expectations.
“The crowd was getting louder and louder. People were standing up in the stands. Dad was standing behind the green fist-pumping and I had to look away in case I got too emotional.
“There was a tear running down my face as I got to the front edge of the green.
“Any youngsters who want do that should just stick with it,” he added. “Don’t listen to anybody who tells you how hard it is. If you want it, work hard and get it. If you knew how I’ve just felt, you’d know it was worth it. It’s just the best.”
Southgate was one of three players who came through Final Qualifying and then play all four rounds of the Championship. He was joined by compatriot, Ryan Evans, and veteran Scot, Colin Montgomerie, in the Sunday shake-up with Evans also making the most of occasion by closing with a 72 in what was his first appearance in The Open.
“I grew up watching The Open on the TV and have always wanted to play in it,” said the 29-year-old from Kettering, who endured a poor start to the season but has seen things turn round since coming through Final Qualifying at Woburn.
“It’s been an amazing week and beyond even what I expected. The golf course is tough but fair. All the best players in the world have been here, and a lot of them have gone home, so I’m proud to make it through all four rounds.
“I drove straight here on Sunday night from the Scottish Open at Inverness and tried to register but I couldn’t because they were closed for the night. I was so excited I got up at 4.00 the next morning to get back here. I haven’t been disappointed. It’s an amazing tournament and I’m just glad to have been part of it.”
Montgomerie was first out in the morning and carded a 76 to lift himself into 80th place.
“At the start of the week, my goal was to play all four days and I’ve managed to do that,” said the Scot who grew up in Troon and learn to play golf on the town’s children’s course. “But, to be honest, I haven’t played very well this week,” he admitted. “I haven’t played well all year.”