Matthew and friends keep on smiling ahead of Solheim Cup challenge

Captain Catriona Matthew and vice-captain Dame Laura Davies ahead of Europe's Solheim Cup clash with the United States at Gleneagles
Captain Catriona Matthew and vice-captain Dame Laura Davies ahead of Europe's Solheim Cup clash with the United States at Gleneagles

Catriona Matthew believes her all-star backroom team could make a big difference in the Solheim Cup.

The European skipper is joined by vice-captains Dame Laura Davies, Kathryn Imrie and Mel Reid at Gleneagles, meaning no shortage of experience as the hosts seek to regain the trophy for the first time since 2013.

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Matthew knows the pressure will be ramped up to max this weekend so a carefully planned schedule of quiz nights, motivational videos and team dinners are keeping things relaxed at Gleneagles.

Davies is the leading points scorer in Solheim Cup history - and believes Europe couldn't have a better captain when it comes to keep cool in the white heat of competition.

"She brings a calmness to the team but she's a fierce competitor, make no mistake about that," she said.

"She wants to win this more than any of us. She's put a lot into this the last two years. She never shows anything, she just cruises along.

"It's very important we win it, but not for any other reason we want to win and we don't want the Americans to do their three-peat; they keep going on about.

"I think we're a good bet because I think our squad, as Beany said, is really strong.

"The American team is incredibly good too but on home soil, it evens out a bit. I think we've got the right players that can step up and do the job under the most extreme pressure. I think we've got a great chance."

After all the planning and preparation Matthew is finally happy to get playing, as she starts to weigh her options for Friday's opening matches.

She might be keeping those pairings closely guarded but her overall tactic appears to be keeping things simple – and trying to play with a smile.

"There's a great feeling in the squad, we've got a great team and a real mix of personalities," she said

"Maybe I'm oversimplifying this but we're really just here to keep them happy, keep them loose, obviously do the pairings and things like that.

"Our job is really to give the players support, try and help them as much as we can with our experience.

"Once Friday comes it's stressful enough. You can try and tell someone who has never been on that first tee what it's like.

"But really until you get there and experience it for yourself, you don't know how you're going to react.

"They're all good players and they've played in big events. I'm sure they'll cope with it. If you don't enjoy this you're doing the wrong thing.

"Once they're on the golf course there's really not much we can do. We are just cheerleaders on the side hoping they hole the putts."

Matthew and fellow Scot Imrie prepared for the days ahead by getting their nails done together while Reid believes the captain's decorated career gives her an instant aura from her team.

"Every single player in their respects Beany, not just for what she's done in her career but what she's done in Solheim Cups," she said. "We all want to win but Catriona, Catriona really wants to win.

"I just think it's a great dynamic on the team all around from a support staff, from the helpers, from everything. The dynamic in the team room is a little bit different this year. You've got to give credit to Catriona for that, and she's doing a really, really good job."

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