MATT Southgate has admitted that he feels ‘really embarrassed’ after a leaf resulted in him missing out on a PGA Tour card.

Standing over a five-footer on the 15th green in the final round of the DAP Championship, Southgate seemed certain to wrap up his playing privileges on the US Tour, from where 25 players would secure a PGA Tour card.

Southgate hit his putt, but a leaf blew into it and caused it to veer off line.

Having continued as normal, Southgate was later hit with four penalty points.

As a result, Southgate has now missed out and the Thorpe Hall Golf Club member, who came sixth at the Open Championship, cannot believe what happened.

“I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve yet to talk to anyone else who has,” said Southgate, talking to The Daily Telegraph.

“The leaf really smacked the ball and it moved a long way. I couldn’t believe it.

“About 30 minutes after I’d finished, I got a message telling me that a rule official had seen the video (put up by the PGA Tour) on Twitter and that because I’d tapped in and not replaced it, “I was being penalised two shots and then a further two shots for signing for an incorrect score.

“They showed me the rulebook and as soon as I saw it, I knew.

“It’s there in black and white and I was just really, really embarrassed.

“It was poor from me to not know the rules of a game I’ve played since I was two. I take full responsibility.

“People say it’s bad luck but it’s not bad luck because I should have replayed the shot and could have made four. But I didn’t and it became nine, and that became me missing my card.

“I’ve only got myself to blame. I’m not annoyed with anyone else.”

A host of fellow golfers and pundits have sympathised with the 29-year-old, with some describing it as ‘one of the worst breaks golf has seen’ and ‘a classic example of golf’s silly rules’.

But the Southend-born man admits that he would rather miss out on a PGA Tour card instead of claiming one by breaking the rules.

Southgate added: “It’s a bit of a shock to think pro golfers know everything and they actually don’t.

“If you’re a pro and you’re playing for millions week in, week out, you should know all the rules inside out.

“If I’d known the ruling, I’d have been the talk of the town for the right reason.

“I’d have replaced it, hit it in for a four and everybody would have said, ‘what a great pro, what great knowledge of the rules’.

“I would have had credit, instead of sympathy.

“And people also say I was unlucky because I had the cameras on me at the time.

“But if they weren’t, I’d have a PGA Tour card and I would have it by breaking the rules.

“And imagine 10 years down the line when a leaf hits someone else’s ball and I’d see it and think, ‘that’s what happened to me and I shouldn’t be here’. How bad would that feel?”

“It’s knocked me for six as it was the chance to play the biggest tournaments in the world against the best players.

“I will be going back to the rule book and having a good study.

“It won’t happen to me again.”