Golf: Matthew has no fears as Open comes to Carnoustie

Carnoustie's reputation as a scary monster of a course could be a big factor when the world's best tee it up tomorrow at the Ricoh Women's British Open - but Catriona Matthew is one of the few who knows she has the game to tame the beast.

The North Berwick 41-year-old won the first of her three Scottish Amateur Championships over the notorious Open Championship links in 1991 and she is actually relishing the test that lies ahead over the next four days.

"Everyone has been talking about Carnoustie and I was lucky to have a chance to play the course about ten weeks ago," she said. "It's in great shape and a very fair test. A lot will depend on the weather, but the forecast seems to be pretty good so I am sure it will be a great Open."

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Matthew won the title - the first Scot to capture a women's major - at Royal Lytham and St Annes two years ago, but missed the cut on her defence at Royal Birkdale. With four top tens already this year, she reckons she is in form to make a real challenge for the 320,000 first prize.

"I've prepared well, working with my coach, Kevin Craggs, and obviously I have an advantage in that I know the course," said Matthew, who will have husband, Graeme, by her side as her caddie. But their two daughters - four-year-old Katie and Sophie (2) - will be staying with Graeme's parents and watching on TV.

"They were with us at Lytham, but now I think they have more fun being at home and doing their own thing," explained Catriona. "We are just back from six weeks in the US as a family of four, and it is quite tough travelling with wee ones.'

Matthew, the world No.?35, is one of just four Scots in the field - Glasgow's Janice Moodie is playing on a sponsor's invite and amateur Pamela Pretswell gained her place as the reigning British Women's Strokeplay Champion.

Kylie Walker, who plays out of the Carrick at Loch Lomond, came through Monday's qualifying at Panmure. She made it through with a birdie at the second extra hole in a dramatic play-off and this will be her British Open debut. And she is hoping that her friendship with Matthew could pay dividends.

"Catriona and I are both coached by Kevin Craggs and she has been great," explained the 24-year-old, who is in her second year on the Ladies' European Tour. "She took me up to Carnoustie and it was great to learn from her experience."

The four home players will have the support of the home crowd, and they will need all the help they can get when they face the threat from a global field. Yani Tseng, just 22, is the defending champion and the world No.?1. She already has four majors and won a second LPGA Championship last month by a runaway ten-shot margin. The big-hitting Taiwan golfer will start as favourite.

Japan's Ai Miyazato, winner of the Evian Masters in France on Sunday, will be out for a famous double while the US threat is certain to be strong. Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr are the two in the world's top ten.

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As has become the norm in women's golf over the past five years, South Korea has a bundle of challengers. Leading the way is the 2008 winner from Sunningdale, Jiyai Shin. She is just 22 and is the world No.?4.

For the European and US players, the added interest is the tail end of the race for Solheim Cup qualification - both sides for the contest at Killeen Castle in Ireland in September will be named at the end of the month. As one of the top four on the world rankings, Matthew should make the European team for a sixth time - Moodie, who has played in three matches, will be out to attract the interest of captain Alison Nicholas.

For Pretswell, the week is all about living and learning. Having just gained her degree from Glasgow University, the 22-year-old will be trying to win her LET card at the end of the year. "It will be great to get the chance to compare my game against the very best," she said. "It's going to be so exciting."