01 Apr 2020

Catriona Matthew – The captain ready to go again

A 25-year veteran on the LPGA Tour, Catriona Matthew is one of Scotland’s greatest women golfers with four wins on the circuit, including a Major at the 2009 Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham, which she won just 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.

She was also victorious five times on the Ladies European Tour, including twice in her home country at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open before it became a joint LPGA/LET event. Last year she oversaw one of the most thrilling finishes in Solheim Cup history as her risky Captain’s Pick, Suzann Pettersen, holed a clutch six-footer in the final match to clinch the matches for Europe.

Earlier this year she was awarded an OBE for Services to Golf and next year she will return as Solheim Cup Captain at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio on August 31st.

How big a surprise was it to receive an OBE in the New Years Honours List?
CM: It was a huge honour for me – and for the team and also for women’s golf. It capped off what’s been an outstanding year for me. It was literally a dream come true to captain a winning European Solheim Cup team in front of amazing home crowds at Gleneagles in September. This is really an award for the whole team as it was their outstanding efforts that led to the result we were all wanting, but I couldn’t have been more proud of the way it all came together.

Matthew appeared in nine editions of the Solheim Cup as a player, making her debut back in 1998.

The inaugural Saudi Ladies International was postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, but its announcement marked a positive step towards growing the game among women’s golf in the region. Do you believe that the Middle East is a potential growth area for ladies golf?
CM: I’m sure it must be a potential growth area, since there are so few female golfers out there, currently. Hopefully, by bringing more professional women’s tournaments to various Middle Eastern countries it will really help to showcase the sport, and, hopefully, these events are shown on local TV also to help introduce the game to as many people as possible.

Captaining a successful European Solheim Cup team was clearly one of the greatest highlights of your career but would you like to see the event played further afield in the Middle East in order to grow awareness?
CM: Yes, I think it would be incredible to stage the event in front of a new audience – really cool.

How would you change the current game to make it more appealing to women and juniors?
CM: I’d make sure that dress codes are relaxed so that any perceived “stuffiness” isn’t on show and try and continue to find ways to make golf fun and cool.

Who was your golfing hero and why?
CM: Growing up it was Kathy Whitworth, who has been the most successful player on the LPGA to date – she’s also won more tournaments than any male PGA Tour player.  She really was a trailblazer for professional women’s golf, and put many of the foundations in place that led to us having the strong platform that we have today.

Catriona Matthew has represented Scotland in the World Cup of Golf on three occasions and was part of Team GB at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

What ingredients make up the perfect course?
CM: I think one where you have to hit every club in the bag, and that has a variety of lengths of hole. This should give you lots of options of shot choices around the green.

If you could change one rule in the game what would it be and why?
CM: I’d make it legal to remove your ball from a divot in the fairway.

What would you do to speed up play?
CM: I’d advocate playing ‘ready golf’ and have harsher penalties for those who don’t speed up, especially on the professional tours!

Do you feel that the ball goes too far for professional men but should it remain unaltered for Ladies Tour players and amateurs?
CM: Yes, I don’t feel that there is any need for balls to be altered for female players of any level. I understand that it’s causing issues in the men’s professional game though – it seems that they are running out of courses they can play.

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