Matthew Southgate didn't lean on excuses days after an obscure rule proved to be the difference in costing him a PGA Tour card.
The Englishman qualified for the Web.com Tour Finals thanks to a T-6 finish at The Open, and heading into the final round of last month's DAP Championship, he appeared in line to snag one of the 25 cards available. But Southgate caught a bad break when a leaf struck his short par putt and moved it off-line:
He went on to tap it in, but according to Rule 19-1 he was supposed to replay the shot from his original position. It created a four-shot penalty - two for playing from the incorrect spot, and two for signing an incorrect scorecard. The weight of the penalty only grew when Southgate missed the cut at the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship, dropping from 20th to 27th on the money list and missing out on a PGA Tour card by less than $3,000.
But speaking to The Telegraph (U.K.) at this week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Southgate took the setback in stride.
"It was poor form of me not to know the rules of the game I've been playing since I was two. I take full responsibility," Southgate said. "People say it's bad luck, but it's not bad luck, because I should have replayed the shot and I could have made 4. But I didn't, and it became 9, and that became me missing my card. I've got only myself to blame. I'm not annoyed with anyone else."
Southgate will now focus his attention on the European Tour, where he entered the week at No. 26 in the Race to Dubai standings before a missed cut in Scotland. He has aspirations to make it to the season finale in Dubai, and he maintains a positive attitude despite the fact that his 2018 schedule was significantly altered a puff of wind.
"People also say I was unlucky because I had the cameras on me at the time. But if they weren't, I'd have a PGA Tour card and I would have it by breaking the rules," he said. "Imagine 10 years down the line when a leaf hits someone else's ball, and I'd see it and think, 'That's what happened to me and I shouldn't be here.' How bad would that feel?"