An emotional Matthew Southgate admitted it would “mean the world” to gain a European Tour card, following a difficult summer during which he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, after the Englishman moved one step close to a return to the top tier at Qualifying School Final Stage.
The 27 year old has endured a difficult year, having had to undergo an operation following his cancer diagnosis in July, while his two year old niece Hattie Seymour (view her charity page here) has been battling leukaemia in Great Ormond Street hospital in London.
Those struggles have made the Essex player much more philosophical about his golfing career in the general scheme of things, but now he is relishing the prospect of finishing the year on a happy note by claiming European Tour membership at PGA Catalunya Resort.
That’s really where I feel like I’m at with my little life – I feel like I’ve had to hack it out sideways and start again
“I’m really looking forward to the final day,” he said. “It’s been a really tough year this year for me and my family so it would mean the world to go home with a card. It’s great to have made the cut having come from First Stage, just to have done that and be back playing again is fantastic.
“I’ll definitely be having a bit of a celebration either way tomorrow, but if I could go home with a card it would be the ultimate.
“I think a lot of golfers would understand it – your health and your family and all of those things in your life are just like golf. Things don’t go your way all the time, sometimes you do have a double or you do have to chip it out.
“That’s really where I feel like I’m at with my little life – I feel like I’ve had to hack it out sideways and start again. Somehow I’ve managed to get it back on track and I’m incredibly lucky for that. Fingers crossed tomorrow I get it through and keep it solid and see it through.”
Matthew Southgate with his niece Hattie Seymour
Southgate will begin the final day in a share of seventh position on 12 under par, five shots clear of the cut-off point for European Tour promotion, after an impressive four under par fifth round 68 which included a run of five consecutive birdies.
Having successfully negotiated his way through Qualifying School Final Stage twice already in his career, he believes that his experience has been crucial thus far this week and thinks it will be a major factor if he is to claim his card in Girona for a third time.
“I’ve always loved playing under pressure,” he said. “The way that it feels out here - when something goes right it feels fantastic, like when I birdied nine because that’s not a birdie hole. When that happens you feel like a million bucks.
“When you make a mistake you feel so lonely but you realise this golf course is so tough, everyone else is doing it. I think it’s a different atmosphere for me where. In a normal tournament if I drop a shot, I think I’ve let one slip and that’s really poor.
“Here, if I drop a shot and you whip yourself off to the next tee and try to get stuck in to get it back straight away – it’s a completely different feeling.
“My experience here is helping. There are times and places on this golf course where I think some of the youngsters or people that haven’t been here, they don’t understand how important it is to just hit it middle of the green, two putt and take your chances when they come.
“It’s so difficult to switch off and just hit the fairway, don’t try crunch it down there. I think that experience is getting me through.
“The experience too of knowing exactly where the pins are, you’ve got your book and write the pins in, but I go to bed at night and I know where the pins are – I don’t need the pin sheet. That helps big time.
“I’ve seen so many good players here drop a shot because they hit it left or they come up short. It’s like playing my home course – when you hit it and know straight away it’ll be in trouble, or when you hit a drive and you know it’s in the perfect position on the fairway.
“I think it is a big advantage to have been here a few times, even if it’s not something to be too proud of!”