MATT Southgate will be swapping one club for another when he tees off at The Open on Thursday morning.

Southgate – who will start his round at Royal Liverpool at 11.36am tomorrow – combines his golfing career with being the chairman of Leigh Ramblers.

And the Essex Olympian side’s club secretary Richard Ackery is delighted Southgate will again be rubbing shoulders with the very best players in the sport.

“We’re extremely proud of Matt for reaching The Open again and the whole club is behind him,” said Ackery.

“Our AGM this year actually took place on the same day that Matt qualified at Royal Porthcawl.

“At the start of the meeting there was a bit of an anxious wait.

“Matt had finished his round and was in a good position but with people still out on the course, we could only wait and see.

“Thankfully, the news filtered through before the meeting was over and we were able to collectively share in the excitement.”

Southgate has been chairman of Leigh Ramblers for the past five years but his association with the club goes back far longer.

Southgate’s late father Ian played for Ramblers’ first team for many seasons and continued as a supporter and committee member for many years after hanging up his boots.

Southgate followed in his dad’s foot-steps by becoming a fan before joining the committee and then becoming chairman.

And he continues to do all he can to help the club.

“When Matt isn’t on the golf course, he continues to help drive the club forward, both on and off the pitch,” said Ackery.

“In addition to being a great ambassador for the club, he’ll even be found helping to put the nets up or rope off the pitch on match days. “ In return, the club continue to support Southgate whenever he is on the golf course.

And Ackery will be among those watching him in action today.

“A couple of the club committee members were fortunate enough to get tickets through the ballot early on in the year and were really thrilled when Matt qualified,” said Ackery.

“We plan to follow his round up close at Hoylake.

“Matt wears the Rams badge with pride on the sleeve of his golf shirt so if he goes deep in this year’s competition I’m sure the club will get a mention and hopefully a rise in popularity! “ And Ackery is confident Southgate can perform well.

“Matt’s been playing very well of late and we feel that his first win on the European Tour is not that far away,” said Ackery.

“It would just be incredible if that first win were to come in a major this week.”