DP World Tour’s Matthew Southgate fights back tears after qualifying for The Open

Englishman Matthew Southgate has been connected to the Open Championship for decades.

So it is no surprise that he displayed such emotion after qualifying for this year’s Open at Royal Troon, which will mark his sixth appearance in golf’s oldest major. Southgate carded a 6-under 136 over 36 holes at Royal Cinque Ports to take home medalist honors by three shots at the Southeast England qualifier.

“Sorry,” Southgate said, fighting back tears.

“Just reminds me of my Dad. The Open is the absolute best.”

His father, Ian, who sadly passed away in late 2020, loved The Open almost as much as his son. He grew fond of Tom Watson in the 1970s when the American began to dominate links-style golf in earnest. The elder Southgate also held a membership at Carnoustie, where Watson won his first Open in 1975. Ian Southgate knew everyone at the course and had for years, which explains why 10-year-old Matthew watched Jean van de Vedle’s infamous 1999 collapse play out from one of the most renowned places in golf.

“The marshalls called me and my friends over to sit on the Barry Burn bridge,” Southgate told the Global Golf Post at last year’s Open at Royal Liverpool.

“My legs were dangling over the water as I watched everything happen.”

The Open, Jean Van de Velde

Jean van de Velde stands in the Barry Burn in 1999.
Getty Images

His Open championship memories as a youngster do not end there.

A decade later, when Watson held the 54-hole lead at The Open, the Southgate father-son duo got in their car on Saturday night and drove up to Turnberry. They could not miss the chance to see their favorite player make history.

Alas, Watson fell just short of Stewart Cink in a playoff. But Southgate has gone on to make plenty of Open memories since then.

He first qualified for The Open in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, where he missed the cut. But two years later, he tied for 12th at Royal Troon. Then he tied for sixth at Royal Birkdale, which saw Jordan Spieth win the Claret Jug. He earned an invite back to The Open in 2018—held at Carnoustie—but tied for 67th. At least he made the cut.

But that would be the last Open his father would see him play.

Matthew Southgate, The Open

Matthew Southgate during 2024 Final Qualifying for The Open
Photo by Tom Dulat/R&A via Getty Images

Southgate did not qualify for The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, and then, one year later, the R&A canceled their marquee event because of the pandemic. Southgate also missed out on 2021 and 2022, but he joined the Open radio commentary team for the 150th Open, lending his perspective about what played out at the Old Course.

Funny enough, this year, after qualifying, he joked about his broadcasting experience.

“That’s why I tried so hard over the last five holes; I didn’t want to work it again,” Southgate said, which drew plenty of laughs on The Open radio broadcast.

“No, I can’t wait to see everybody. Troon is a magical golf course.”

Southgate also qualified for The Open last year at Royal Liverpool and played well. He tied for 23rd.

But the Englishman has not been at his best throughout 2024. His best finish came at the ISPS Handa Championship in Japan in April, when he tied for 18th. He has not made a cut on the DP World Tour since then.

“I have had such a tough time the last couple of months, but I played really well today,” Southgate said.

“It has been disaster after disaster, so to finally get something to go right just means everything.”

Now, he will play in The Open at Royal Troon for the second time, the course where Watson won his fourth Claret Jug in 1982. So, perhaps Southgate—like Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis earlier this Millenium—can continue to play as well as he did in qualifying, shock the world, and win The Open as an ultimate longshot.

Regardless of what happens, his father will smile down upon him with great pride, knowing that his son has already accomplished so much.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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