After coming into Annika Sorenstam’s side as a late replacement for the injured Suzann Pettersen at Des Moines Golf & Country Club, the 47-year-old ended up as the second most successful player for the visitors behind Anna Nordqvist with three points out of four.
The haul, which included a last-day singles success over Stacy Lewis after being three down early on, took Matthew’s tally in the matches to 22 points, just three behind all-time leading scorer Laura Davies and two adrift of Sorenstam, the trio all having been more successful than Cristie Kerr, who jumped above Juli Inkster at the top of the US list after the home side’s deserved 16½-11½ victory on Sunday.
However, even though a tenth playing appearance would certainly not be fanciful based on this performance and also the fact that she shows no signs whatsoever of being at a stage where the light on her career is starting to flicker, Matthew is not going to be tempted by having a chance to become a record-breaker.
“I think I should go out on a high,” she said. “I know that I am now just three points behind Laura, but two years is a long time. I think it’s time for some younger players to take over. It was an amazing week for me. Initially, I was disappointed not to be playing, then excited about being vice-captain, then I did get in. I’m just pleased that I played so well.
“It was difficult coming in as a last-minute replacement, and I had some big shoes to fill taking over from Suzann, but I certainly felt that I did my part for the team. Let’s hope this will be the catalyst for a strong finish to my season. It’s given me a lot of confidence as I played some good golf on all three days, though especially in the singles. I played really well on the back nine against Stacy under real pressure and hopefully I can take that into the end of the season.”
The 2009 Women’s British Open winner was quick to throw her hat into the ring after Scotland won the bidding battle for the event in two years’ time and was immediately identified by Judy Rankin, a two-time winning US captain, as the perfect candidate to lead the Europeans at Gleneagles in her commentary role here for the Golf Channel.
It certainly seemed that Matthew was being groomed for that role when she was appointed as one of Sorenstam’s vice captains for this encounter and, despite having to switch to a playing mode, that would still seem to be a logical appointment. If anything, in fact, the Scot’s impressive performance can only have strengthened her credentials, especially as she will now have earned the respect of younger Europeans such as Georgia Hall.
Asked about the 2019 captaincy, Matthew, who had her mum, Joan, almost bursting with pride as she watched from outside the ropes here, said: “It is tough to think about that right now, but I have said before I’d like to do it. I think it would be a tremendous honour, especially to get to do it in your home country.”
Appetites for the event’s third staging on Scottish soil after Dalmahoy in 1992 and Loch Lomond eight years later should certainly have been whetted by a fantastic spectacle in Des Moines. Some of the golf over the three days was probably the best witnessed in the event, with Lexi Thompson, for example, covering seven holes in eight under par as she recovered from being four down at the turn against Nordqvist in the singles to finish all square.
“Definitely,” replied Matthew when asked if the event was a boost for the next match, even though the result means the Americans will be heading to Perthshire with a chance of claiming a third hat-trick. “Hopefully a lot of people have watched it at home on TV. From what I’ve read, it has been a fantastic spectacle on television. The bigger the crowds the better at Gleneagles. As players, we thrive on having lots of people out watching.”
As she closed this particular Solheim Cup chapter, Matthew admitted it was “difficult” to pick out a particular highlight but settled on the 2002 match at Barseback in Sweden. “That was my first winning team (she played on three) and I got the winning point against Rosie [Jones] in the singles. That was probably the most special,” she said.
Watching on TV back home in North Berwick, her two young daughters, Katie and Sophie, seemed more impressed about what mum was wearing on this occasion than for her golf. “Very slightly,” she said, smiling, to being asked if this performance would make her cool with her kids. “Their biggest comment was that I was wearing a skirt. That went down well. I got the seal of approval for that.”
Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup record
1998 at Muirfield Village
With Annika Sorenstam, beat Donna Andrews and Tammie Green 3&2
With Annika Sorenstam, beat Donna Andrews and Sherri Steinhauer 3&2
Lost to Sherri Steinhauer 3&2
2003 at Baresback
With Janice Moodie, beat Juli Inkster and Wendy Ward 5&3
With Janice Moodie, halved with Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins
With Laura Davies, lost to Kelli Keuhne and Cristie Kerr 2&1
With Janice Moodie, beat Wendy Ward and Rosie Jones 4&3
Beat Rosie Jones 3&1
2005 at Crooked Stick
With Carin Koch, halved with Beth Daniel and Paula Creamer
With Annika Sorenstam, lost to Michele Redman and Pat Hurst two holes
With Annika Sorenstam, beat Pat Hurst and Wendy Ward 2&1
With Carin Koch, lost to Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer 1 hole
Beat Wendy Ward 3&2
2007 at Halmstad
With Annika Sorenstam, lost to Sherri Steinhauer and Laura Diaz 4&2
With Iben Tinning, beat Pat Hurst and Brittany Lincicome 4&2
Beat Laura Diaz 3&2
2009 at Rich Harvest Farms
With Janice Moodie, lost to Paula Creamer and Juli Inkster 2&1
With Maria Hjorth, halved with Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie
With Diana Luna, halved with Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford
Beat Kristy McPherson 3&2
2011 at Killeen Castle
With Azahara Munoz, beat Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford 3&2
With Azahara Munoz, halved with Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer
With Sandra Gal, halved with Christina Kim and Ryann O’Toole
Beat Paula Creamer 6&5
2013 at Colorado GC
With Jodi Ewart Shadoff, lost to Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda 3&2
With Caroline Masson, halved with Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas
With Charley Hull, lost to Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie 2&1
Halved with Gerina Piller
2015 at St Leon-Rot
With Sandra Gal, beat Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas 3&2
With Sandra Gal, beat Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome one hole
With Karine Icher, beat Lizette Salas and Brittany Lang 2&1
Lost to Morgan Pressel two holes
2017 at Des Moines G&CC
With Karine Icher, beat Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller one hole
With Karine Icher, beat Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang 2&1
With Georgia Hall, lost 4&2 to Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson
Beat Stacy Lewis one hole