US Open qualifying: Matt Southgate cruises through at Walton Heath

Matthew Southgate
Matthew Southgate

Matthew Southgate will make his US Open debut at Shinnecock in a fortnight after coming through sectional qualifying at Walton Heath.

Southgate finished 12th in the 2016 Open Championship and sixth in the 2017 edition at Royal Birkdale, but has now earned a crack at the US equivalent, which will be his first major championship start overseas.

The Southend professional, who beat cancer on his way to the European Tour, again showed his tenacity by defying an opening double-bogey in Monday's 36-hole event, playing the remaining 35 in 11-under to post nine-under in total.

"I’m absolutely over the moon," he said. "Obviously I woke up really early this morning to come down here and play the 36 holes and I got off to a terrible start – I four-putted the first green and I just wanted to break the putter really.

"I think all the experience will add up if I end up with a chance come back nine on the Sunday at Shinnecock but that’s a long way away. I play golf because I enjoy playing golf and if you can’t enjoy getting on a plane and going out to play the US Open then you might as well quit."

Andrew Johnston and James Morrison led the way at 10-under, with Richie Ramsay joining Southgate on nine-under and all cruising through.

Johnston said: "It’s a tough day, after coming in late from Italy last night. I got in late and didn’t much sleep, and then two rounds today. It’s tough but it’s been a good day.

"It is difficult, but you have to just get out there and play and get yourself around the fact that you’re not going to get much sleep. That’s the kind of mindset you’ve got to get into.

"I played lovely early on and then I started nicely in my second round too, but then I scrambled hard on the back nine coming in, but I’ve done enough so it’s good.

"The last event I played in New York area was the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol and that was wild! So I’m expecting it’s going to be loud and it’ll be good fun. I haven’t played there before but I’ve heard some really good things about it so I’m really looking forward to playing there."

Scott Gregory and Ryan Fox qualified on eight-under, with Dean Burmester, Tom Lewis, Matthieu Pavon, Matt Wallace and Jason Scrivener all inside the top 10 on seven-under.

Norwegian amateur Kristoffer Reitan scraped through on six-under alongside Italian Open hero Thorbjorn Olesen, who was on course to earn his spot with something to spare before a double-bogey at the penultimate hole.

Olesen's closing par meant that the nine players on five-under went into a play-off for one spot, and it was England's Paul Waring who bounced back from a disappointing second round to edge out Ryan Evans, who may still get into the field as an alternate.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Sam Horsfield both missed the play-off by a shot.

Olesen was a relieved man when capping a dream few days.

"I feel tired but relieved," said the Dane, who held off Francesco Molinari to win at Gardagolf on Sunday.

"I played nicely actually, just made a silly mistake there at 17 for a double and all of a sudden there was a bit of pressure but I’m really happy to have made it.

"It’s probably the toughest major there is on the courses they play on. They set it up really tough so it will be interesting. I’m looking forward to getting back and playing a US Open.

"From last week I have a lot of confidence and belief in myself now so I have to keep working hard and hopefully be ready for the U.S Open. I have heard lots of good things about Shinnecock Hills so I’m really looking forward to seeing it."

Walton Heath qualifiers

-10 Andrew Johnston, James Morrison

-9 Matthew Southgate, Richie Ramsay

-8 Scott Gregory, Ryan Fox

-7 Tom Lewis, Matthieu Pavon, Matt Wallace, Jason Scrivener, Dean Burmester

-6 Kristoffer Reitan, Thorbjorn Olesen

-5 Paul Waring

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