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Forget McIlroy: The Real Story Of The Open Is The Inspiring Tale Of 25th-Placed Matthew Southgate

Forget McIlroy: The Real Story Of The Open Is The Inspiring Tale Of 25th-Placed Matthew Southgate
By Gavin Cooney Updated

Despite this being the 145th Open Championship, golf is a sport seemingly eternally anxious about its position in the wider sporting landscape. This odd angst among the game's powers revealed itself in the wake of Rory McIlroy's finally revealing his true opinions of the inclusion of golf in the Olympics.

In case you hadn't heard, having pulled out of the Olympics citing the Zika virus as the main reason, McIlroy confirmed to the media at Royal Troon on Tuesday that he would watch the Olympics, but only the events that mattered. This was not a definition that extended to include golf. Despite his single-handed promotion of the Irish Open, McIlroy claimed his job was not to promote golf to the wider world. McIlroy's job, as described by Rory McIlroy, is to win majors.

Speaking on the Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee said that McIlroy would live to regret his comments for the rest of his life, claiming that his comments were an "insult to everybody that's worked tirelessly since 2009 to try to make golf better by its inclusion in the Olympics".

Perhaps these people were insulted, but for the golfers at the elite level of the sport, golf is a fundamentally individual pursuit: one in which each golfer takes to the course determined to fulfill their own goals. For Rory McIlroy, the goal is to win majors.

Not that this is the same aim for everyone, nor should it be. While McIlroy's struggles to stay in touch with the leaders at Royal Troon will prove to be one of the biggest narratives emerging from the competition, another man, further down the leaderboard, has already achieved his personal goal, and you may not hear much about it.

England's Matthew Southgate made the cut on Friday, and enters the final day in a tie for 25th place. He won't win, but that's far from the point. Without wishing to be overly cloying, Southgate's victory is in competing.

A year ago, while the Open was being held at St Andrew's, Southgate was undergoing an operation to treat his testicular cancer.

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Southgate was 26 at the time, and the diagnosis was not the only shattering blow he was dealt that year.

His two-year-old niece Harriet was diagnosed with leukaemia, with Southgate playing on the European Tour in a bid to raise money for her treatment. He had earned just £10,000 upon diagnosis with cancer.

Yet Southgate recovered, and finished fourth at this year's Irish Open, a finish which earned him prize money of €60,000. Southgate's tears afterwards were quite something:

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Should Southgate finish 25th at Royal Troon today, he will earn prize money in the region of £65,000.

You won't see very much of Matthew Southgate during Sky's live coverage, but know that he will be out there, for that's what matters.

Often, the most individual of sports have the most generous and noble of motivations.

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See Also: Why Is Andrew Johnston Nicknamed Beef? The Reason Is Highly Entertaining

 


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