CATRIONA Matthew is confident golf doesn’t need to worry about being hit by a Maria Sharapova-style doping scandal as the sport prepares to re-enter the Olympics after more than 100 years.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner in tennis, revealed earlier this week that she tested positive for meldonium in January, leading men’s world No 2 Andy Murray to claim the 28-year-old “must accept responsibility” for her actions.
“I’ve certainly not heard of any performance-enhancing drugs on the Ladies Tour, but I don’t know if in golf there’s a whole lot drugs can really do to improve,” said Matthew before picking up her Annodata Scottish Golf Lifetime Achievement Award in Edinburgh last night.
“I suppose you can try to strengthen yourself a bit but, as far as I’m aware, golf doesn’t seem to have a problem. And we are kept updated about the banned substances, especially now that golf is in the Olympics [for the first time since 1904].
“You always get emails from WADA telling you all about drugs that are banned, but I must say, if I’m being brutally honest, I’m a little bit like Sharapova in that I don’t really study them.
“However, I’d never take anything without asking, unless it was an Aspirin or something. You just have to be careful. The LPGA have a person you can phone if you have any questions about a medication that your doctor has prescribed you and they’ll usually get back to you within 24 hours. So, I think before taking anything an athlete should always check.”
Matthew, who has joined Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Bernard Gallacher in Scottish Golf’s Hall of Fame, is determined to add an Olympic Games appearance to her impressive CV in Brazil this summer.
However, the 46-year-old from North Berwick would rather chalk up another major to add to her 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open success at Royal Lytham than win a gold medal before bringing the curtain down on her glittering career.
“Rio is going to be the only chance I have to get in and, having watched a lot of Olympic Games over the years, it’s something I’d love to compete in,” she admitted prior to taking centre stage in front of a 650-strong audience in the capital’s Corn Exchange. “But, if you said to me right now, you can win the Olympics or the US Open, I’d pick the US Open.
“Perhaps in two or three Olympics time, though, they might see that is what they’d rather win ahead of a major and I certainly think golf in the Olympics is good for the sport because that gets it more recognition and the more recognition hopefully means more people playing the game.”
At an event co-hosted by Russell Knox’s sister, radio DJ Diane, the golfer was a richly-deserved Player of the Year in recognition of him becoming the first Scot to win a World Golf Championship event in China last November.
Rickie Fowler’s wedge into the last at Gullane to clinch victory in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open was an equally worthy Shot of the Year winner.
On the current tournament front, two Scots – Simon Yates and Marc Warren – are inside the top 10 heading into the final 36 holes of the True Thailand Classic in Hua Hin.
Thai-based Yates backed up an opening 67 with a 68 at Black Mountain, his home club, to lie joint fourth on nine under par, three shots behind leaders Pelle Edberg and Scott Hend. Warren is a shot further back in a share of ninth after a second successive 68. Such consistency was lacking, unfortunately, from compatriot Scott Jamieson as he followed Thursday’s 66 with a 76 to slip from third overnight to joint 63rd.
“I played really good today,” said Glasgow-born Yates, who has lived in Hua Hin for more than 20 years and currently has a home just 50 yards from the 10th tee on this course. “It was one of those days when I could have gone really low if I hadn’t struggled to get the ball in the hole. But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to be happy shooting four-under.”
SCOTTISH GOLF AWARDS 2016
Amateur Golfer of the Year: Ewen Ferguson
Seniors Order of Merit: Ronnie Clark
Shot of the Year: Rickie Fowler
Boys Order of Merit & Girls Order of Merit: Sandy Scott & Chloe Goadby
Adam Hunter Award: Sandy Scott
Junior Club of the Year: Prestonfield GC
Men’s Order of Merit & Ladies Order of Merit: Kyle Godsman & Shannon McWilliam
Team of the Year: GB&I Walker Cup team
Club Manager of the Year: David Roy
Volunteer of the Year: David Drew
Inspiration Award: David Sneddon
Bob Torrance Coach of the Year: David Torrance
Player of the Year: Russell Knox
Lifetime Achievement Award: Catriona Matthew