MATTHEW Southgate has spoken of his joy after seeing Richard McEvoy win the first PGA European Tour title of his career.

Just like McEvoy, Southgate attended St Thomas More High School and also plays locally at Thorpe Hall Golf Club.

And Southgate was therefore leading the applause for McEvoy following his victory at the European Open in Germany.

“Richie has been dedicated to his sport for a very long time and a lot of us deep down maybe thought he wouldn’t win a tournament,” said Southgate, who plays on the European Tour.

“To see him finally get that opportunity and for him to take it was very, very special for me as a golfer and on a personal level for me too because he’s always been amazing towards me.

“He’s been a big supporter of mine and there’s a lot of mutual respect between us.

“I don’t think there was anyone happier in the town when that last putt went in, apart from maybe his wife and parents.

“But I was ecstatic to see such a lovely bloke win such a great event.”

McEvoy finished 11 under par to take the title.

And Southgate felt it was just what his Shoebury-based friend fully deserved.

“It would have been a complete injustice if he had won a smaller event with smaller players in,” he said.

“But to see him win against the Masters champion and lift a well-recognised trophy is just what he deserves for his dedication.”

Southgate has been a long-term admirer of McEvoy - even when it would get him in trouble at school.

“I used to get told off at school because I would constantly be online checking Richie’s scores,” said Southgate.

“I was at school and he was on tour and there’s a big group of people in the area who have followed his career and always wanted the best for him.

“As fans, there have been some tough times when one bad hole would kill the week but to see him put the four rounds together was special.

“Hopefully it will be an eye-opener for him and me as well. It shows you’re good enough to win tournaments and hopefully that will break the duck for both of us because I haven’t had a win either.”