THE father of Matt Southgate has hailed his son’s display at The Open after he secured his best ever finish at one of golf’s major events.

The Southend professional shot a final round of 65 to finish four under par at Royal Birkdale.

Southgate, a member of Thorpe Hall Golf Club, was cheered on by his family who made the trip to Southport to support his bid.

And his dad Ian said it was one of Matt’s best displays - putting him alongside the likes of Rickie Fowler and Alex Noren for the way he dealt with the windy conditions.

“I was on the ropes all the way,” said Ian. “My knees are killing me.

“Matt was brilliant and he hit the ball better than anyone on the course on Saturday and Sunday.

“There were a few putting better than he was but his drive was fantastic.

“He was hitting fairways and greens with regularity and looked in control.

“We were close to the action but I don’t want to be too close as I don’t want to interfere.

“People make me laugh when they ask if he was waving at his family as he is very focused and it is his job.

“I get nervous sometimes but I didn’t feel any nerves over the weekend. Watching Matt was a real pleasure.”

Ian said he took Matt to watch his first Open Championship when he was just nine-years-old - at Carnoustie in Scotland.

Southgate, a former St Thomas More School pupil, has competed in the competition in three of the last four years.

And following a tied 12th placed finish last year, he stepped up his game even further this year - as rounds of 67 and 65 helped him tie for sixth.

“Matt has always loved the The Open,” added Ian.

“I took him to his first one in 1999 and we stayed in a tent. He was nine.

“Now he has played in three of the last four and only missed the other one through illness.

“It is as good as anything I have ever seen from Matt. He hit the ball beautifully and deserves all the plaudits coming his way.

“He judged the wind very well. He had the ball flying the ball a bit lower and there are not many players in the world that hit the ball that way as well as Matt.

“Alex Noren and Rickie Fowler spring to mind but a lot of the boys from the USA just smash it. Sometimes I watch Bubba Watson and he seems amazed at how far his shot gets hit off line.

“But Matt was superb and I am very proud of him.

“It is onwards and upwards from here!”