All roads lead to home for proud Solheim Cup skipper Matthew

Catriona Matthew will captain Europe at the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles this week
Catriona Matthew will captain Europe at the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles this week

Catriona Matthew has always been good with numbers - she studied accountancy after all, writes James Toney.

But the figure of 14.5 - the points needed for Europe to regain the Solheim Cup - are the only digits she has in mind this week.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

After all the planning and preparation now it's finally time to play and Matthew just wants to get started.

Europe’s captain was born in Edinburgh and grew up in North Berwick, where she soon became a regular at the town's West Links club. She now lives next to the 18th tee, and became the Scottish Girls champion as a 16-year old.

Her victory in the 2009 British Open success remains the career highlight, the first Scottish woman to win a major title, the achievement coming just 11 weeks after the birth of her second child.

But this week Captain Matthew could have her proudest 'Proud Scot' moment yet.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t really realise it,= but as I got older I appreciated more, how lucky I was to grow up here," she said.

"The more you travel, the more you see the rest of the world, the more you realise how lucky you are to come from here.

"I was about seven or eight when I started playing golf. My dad and brothers played; and my mum took it up when I went to school, just to keep up with us."

When Matthew speaks about home you can see why being a captain this week means even more.

The last time these matches came to Scotland, Matthew cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines having made her debut two years earlier in 1998.

Initially and controversially left out of captain Dale Reid's team, when Helen Alfredsson hurt her wrist she was drafted into action, playing nine holes of a practice round before she was informed the Swede would actually be fit to play.

It was like being finally invited to the ball, only to turn into a pumpkin before the first dance.

Matthew went on to play in eight further editions, winning 22 points in total, banking three out of four points two years ago in Des Moines, the best return by a European player in their eventual 16.5-11.5 defeat.

And this time around she's at the heart of the centre of the action as the hosts look to regain the trophy for the first time in six years.

Matthew has never seen her role as being a trailblazer, though her career achievements certainly suggest otherwise.

While there is still much work to do, there has never been more focus on women's sport in the UK.

This weekend crowds of over 50,000 watched two matches on the opening weekend of the women's football season and a record TV audience watched England's run to the Women's World Cup semi-finals.

Next year’s British Olympic team will include more women than men for the first time and the nation has enjoyed success on the world stage in hockey, netball and cricket in recent years.

It's progress and Matthew wants her team to get a piece of the action too.

“I would say it has changed, more so in the last ten years," she said.

"I think the profile of women’s sport in general has improved – you’re definitely seeing a lot more different sports on television with women taking centre stage.

“Previously, golf and tennis used to be the two main sports women could actually play professionally and make a living in, but now you’re beginning to see other sports like cricket, football and netball all coming in, it has definitely improved."

What to Read Next