CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Golf fans outside Scotland might be surprised at how comfortable Matthew Southgate looked in returning an opening 2-under 69, in the 147th British Open at Carnoustie.
They shouldn’t be – he’s a Carnoustie member.
Southgate is as English as they come. He’s from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, east of London which is as close to being a quintessential Cockney lad as living in The Big Smoke itself. Yet he’s been playing Carnoustie since he was 16 years old, when he and his dad joined the Carnoustie Club across the street after playing in a local competition called the Craw’s Nest Tassie.
“I think the whole town knows me and my dad,” Southgate said. “What’s nice for me is when you sort of walk to the local Chinese to pick up a take-away and bump into two, three people you know. It does feel like a second home. Dad’s the same. There’s not one pub in the town that we can’t walk in and find someone with an old golf story and sit down and have a chat with. That’s lovely.”
What’s also lovely is that he knows the golf course better than the rest of the field.
“I must have played 50-odd rounds there or thereabouts and watched a couple of Opens every day,” Southgate said. “I don’t think you can know the course much better than I do. I still don’t know the greens by heart. I’d be lying if I knew every break on every putt, but I’m not far off it.”
He’s not far off the lead either, but you’d expect that from a local.