Catriona Matthew hails Solheim Cup interest

The European team celebrates winning the Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond in 2000. Picture: Getty

The European team celebrates winning the Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond in 2000. Picture: Getty

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CATRIONA Matthew, who made history as she secured the half point Europe needed to win the Solheim Cup on American soil for the first time, has welcomed the possibility of the event being staged in Scotland for a third time.

Keen to build on the outstanding success of last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the home of golf is among ten countries – a record total – to submit an “expression of interest” in hosting the 2019 match between Europe and the United States.

Led by Paul Bush, the chief operating officer of EventScotland, a four-strong Scottish delegation will be at the headquarters of the Ladies European Tour in Buckinghamshire today for a “bidding seminar” along with representatives of Denmark, England, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Wales.

With the winning country not due to be named until after September’s match in Germany, Scotland has declared it will be waiting until the summer before deciding to make a formal bid, though the vibes are already positive about the likelihood of that hat being tossed into the ring.

The desire to see Scotland stage such events is stronger than ever on the back of last year’s Ryder Cup while LET officials already know that the sport’s cradle can deliver when it comes to the Solheim Cup after visits to Dalmahoy in 1992 then Loch Lomond eight years later.

“It would be great if we put a bid in,” said Scottish No 1 Matthew, who was still in the amateur ranks when the first of those events took place and was a reserve for the other one. “To have a premier ladies’ golf event in Scotland would hopefully encourage more girls to take up the game.”

Of the other countries, England, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain would appear to be the main rivals if Scotland did decide to move to the next stage, though, if it comes down to money alone, then Turkey would be a serious player, too.

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As for where the event could be staged if a Scottish bid was successful, Gleneagles would surely be in the frame, though the Perthshire resort is up for sale at the moment, while Donald Trump would no doubt love to see such a prestigious event at Turnberry.

Having been tried and tested venues for the Ricoh Women’s British Open in recent years, both Carnoustie and St Andrews would be other strong candidates, if interested, while the likes of Kingsbarns and Castle Stuart may also be considered.

“Obviously we would be up against some strong bids, but we have a host of good venues that could be used,” added Matthew, who, after her history-making feat in Denver in 2013, is determined to make her eighth appearance in the biennial joust later this year.

That is certainly a strong possibility, but the North Berwick woman will be either close to or turned 50 by the time the 2019 match comes around and would surely be a strong contender for the European captaincy then, if she’s not already held the post two years earlier in Iowa. “I definitely want to be on the team this year,” said Matthew, drawing a line for the moment under any future speculation surrounding her in the event.

Norway will be keen to come up with a strong bid to honour Suzann Pettersen’s superb contribution to the European game over the past decade or so, while England will surely be pulling out all the stops to get its first Solheim Cup at a time when Charley Hull could be battling out with Lydia Ko for the world No 1 spot.

However, Scottish officials believe the success of the first Ryder Cup to be staged in this country for more than 40 years could be an ace up their sleeve if a bid is made for the women’s equivalent. “The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was regarded as the best-ever staging of the event and showed what Scotland can do when the whole country comes together to host a major golf tournament,” said Bush. “There is no doubt that hosting the Solheim Cup in Scotland would further enhance an already prestigious event and we believe that our history and heritage in golf as well as our experience in hosting major events can set us apart from other nations.”

Interest in the 2019 event is greater than the 2022 Ryder Cup. It initially attracted seven bids before that number was reduced to six. “With the European team’s victory at the past two editions and the growth in women’s golf across the world, the Solheim Cup is developing into a unique women’s sport brand globally,” said LET chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh. “We are therefore very confident of a strong host for the 2019 match.”

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