England’s Matthew Southgate, a member of Carnoustie Golf Club since he was 16, used his knowledge of the links to good effect, carding a 69 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship.

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Matthew Southgate draws on second home advantage

Matthew Southgate carded a two-under par 69 in the first round of The Open Championship at Carnoustie. The 28-year-old is no stranger to the links here though, he’s been a member since he was 16.

Southgate has been a member of the Carnoustie Golf Club since he was 16. His father, also a member of the club, gave him membership as a present when Southgate junior got his handicap down to scratch.

Matthew and dad Ian have been regular visitors to Carnoustie over the years and Southgate knows the course as well, probably better than any other player in the field. He used his local knowledge well in round one of the 147th Open Championship, firing an opening 69.

“I must have played 50-odd rounds there or thereabouts and watched a couple of Opens here, every day of them,” he said. “I don’t think you can know the course much better than I do. Still I don’t know the greens by heart. I’d be lying if I knew every break on every putt, but I’m not far off it.”

And Southgate is enjoying competing in a Major Championship in a town where everybody knows his name.

“I think the whole town know me and my dad. I think it’s lovely. It’s like a home away from home,” he said.

And Southgate is full of praise for the way golf is viewed in this corner of the country.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the milkman or a lawyer, as soon as your golf clubs come out, you’re all just equal and you’re all square on the 1st tee, let’s play golf. And I think they deserve a huge amount of credit for that, the lads up here, because they’ve kept the true etiquette of the game and the true spirit of the game.”

Southgate has a good links pedigree and has been much tipped as an outside chance for this week. He won the 2010 St Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur, he finished second in the Irish Opens of 2017 at Portstewart and he has been tied 12th and tied 6th in the last two Open championships. He recognises the test posed by the course this week, even in relatively calm conditions and was delighted with his opening score.

“I think it’s very easy for spectators to watch and just take for granted how tough this golf course is,” he said “We’re hitting irons off the tee to miss bunkers, and people think, oh, it’s only an iron. But if you get it slightly wrong, you’re right in the face of the bunker or in the rough with no second shot. It demands a lot out of your game. So anything in the 60s is fantastic, I think.”

Southgate tees off in round two at 11.47 tomorrow morning.