MATT Southgate has revealed how the best shot of his career landed him a place on next season’s European Tour.
With a chance of claiming a career-best achievement in a pressure cooker tournament, the rookie pro showed nerves of steel to drive his second shot 229ft on the par-five 15th at the PGA Golf Catalunya Resort in Spain.
It faded before touching down on the middle of the green, and then ran just by the hole before rolling on about 7ft. The 23-year-old sunk that putt for an eagle which earnt his place among the golfing elite on next season’s European Tour.
He said: “It was the best shot I’ve ever hit as a pro. I’ve never felt like that before standing behind a shot.
“I knew it was the difference bet-ween Challenge Tour and European Tour because I knew if I missed and did not even make par it would all stop there.
“But I just committed to the shot and it was perfect yardage on this par five — a perfect strike and I could not have hit it any better.
“It hit the middle of the green and almost went in but rolled on a bit, and I managed to putt for eagle.”
Southgate, in his debut year as a professional, finished 26th on the Challenge Tour this season. He was in a great position to qualify for the European Tour but just missed out at the Grand Final in Italy in November.
And that followed heartbreak at the end of last season when he just missed out by two shots at the qualifying school with a treble bogey at the 14th.
He said: “That’s golf for you — it can all come down to one shot, one pivotal moment which can make or break your season’s work.
“Last year that one shot ruined everything. But this year it was the opposite. And now I can’t wait to get underway on the European Tour next season.
“I’m really looking forward to spending some time with my family at Christmas, and then I start in South Africa in January. And just being around some of the best golfers I will learn so much.
“I’ve continued to make so much progress in my career, I’ve played club golf, county golf, international golf and now pro golf, and whatever happens now I can always say I had what it took to make it to the European Tour.”
Southgate will join fellow Thorpe Hall professional Richard McEvoy on next season’s European Tour, and says he’s delighted at the prospect of them both flying the flag for Southend.
Southgate said: “I spoke to him after I qualified, and he was over-the-moon for me. We get on really well and he helped me so much when I was an amateur.
“So now I’m really looking forward to competing against him next year, and it would be great if we could both be in contention and end up playing in a group together.”