KYLIE Walker wouldn’t fancy her chances of winning this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open if she was trying to combine that with the same motherhood duties as Catriona Matthew.
While pleased to be sleeping in her own bed in North Berwick for the £205,000 event starting at Archerfield Links today, two-time winner Matthew revealed that being so close to home also brought distractions she’s not normally used to at tournaments.
“You find yourself doing other things than just playing golf and that takes a bit of getting used to,” said the newly-turned 45-year-old as she sat between both Walker and Carly Booth on the eve of the tournament’s fifth staging at the East Lothian venue.
Asked if those things included everyday chores such as putting on the washing machine, Matthew, smiling, replied: “I’m not good at that at the best of times, but this morning, for instance, I took both the girls (daughters Katie and Sophie) to school, where Sophie has just started. I’m missing going for lunch with her today, but she’s got swimming lessons later and Katie had swimming club last night. I fit the golf in round about it.”
As Walker’s response to those comments indicated, the world No 20 has managed to do that in a way that earns her respect from fellow players for more than just her achievements during a glittering career, the highlight of which, of course, was winning the Women’s British Open in 2009.
“I’m just glad that I don’t have to do all the extra things that Catriona is having to do by staying at home this week,” admitted Walker as she set her sights on trying to add her home title to a brace of victories – one in the Netherlands and the other in Germany – on the Ladies European Tour this season. “I’m looking forward to that stage of my life, but I don’t know how she does it all. Hats off to her, it’s amazing.”
While Walker has become Scottish golf’s new poster girl – she beat Charley Hull in a play-off for the second of her wins – that mantle was undoubtedly held by Booth two years ago. Held earlier in the season, the Comrie woman won this event then added the Swiss Open title to finish the year fifth on the money-list.
It’s become a struggle since then, though, and Booth heads into this week’s event lying 110th on the LET Order or Merit, having missed the cut in nine of her 12 outings this year.
“It has been frustrating because I’ve not had the results I’ve been looking for, but it happens to the best of us,” reflected the 22-year-old. “You just have to keep working hard and stay positive to get through it. Everyone in my team – family, coaches and my boyfriend (European Tour player Tano Goya) – have helped me stay positive.
“I’ve got a new coach – Luke Ringrose, who is based in London – and have been working on some changes. I feel my game is getting close to be being very good. I just need to sharpen up my short game a bit. The confidence is in there somewhere, I know that, and hopefully I can have a good week here.
“I’ve had good results here in the past and hopefully that will help bring out the best in me. I feel that I’m close to producing the sort of form that can get me another win. It is going to come.”
Booth is paired in today’s opening round with defending champion Matthew as they join on-form Walker and six other compatriots – Vikki Laing, Pamela Pretswell, Sally Watson, Pamela Feggans, Kelsey MacDonald and Heather MacRae – in trying to keep the title in Scotland for the fourth year running.
The field also includes Laura Davies and Trish Johnson – both members of Europe’s historic Solheim Cup-winning side at Dalmahoy in 1992 – as well as Amy Boulden and Holly Clyburn, both team-mates of Pretswell when Great Britain & Ireland lifted the Curtis Cup at Nairn in 2012.