Catriona Matthew: Important to have Women's Open winners in St Andrews 'Walk of Fame'

Catriona Matthew, Europe’s Solheim Cup captain, says it is “important” that a new ‘Walk of Fame’ in St Andrews includes winners of the Women’s Open in the home of golf and not just players who have claimed the Claret Jug over the Old Course.

Lorena Ochoa of Mexico poses on the Swilcan Bridge with the trophy following her victory in the 2007 Ricoh Women's British Open held on the Old Course at St Andrews. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

As part of it being extended, Rusacks Hotel has been granted permission to lay an array of bronze plaques, each of which will be embossed with the name of a tournament champion.

"The plaques are to celebrate and commemorate the past 29 winners of The Open at The Old Course," a statement prepared on behalf of the Rusacks read.

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No mention has been made of the two Women’s Opens played at St Andrews, Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa securing a place in the record books as she won the first one in 2007 before American Stacy Lewis followed in her footsteps six years later.

Stacy Lewis of the United States poses with the trophy on the Swilcan Bridge following her victory in the 2013 Ricoh Women's British Open at the Old Course in St Andrews. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

Now run by the R&A, the tournament is set to be held for a third time on the Old Course in 2024, two years after it hosts the 150th Open Championship.

Speaking at Carnoustie, where the 2021 edition of the AIG Women’s Open is being held in August, Matthew said she hoped that the names of Ochoa and Lewis would be included in the ‘Walk of Fame’ along with some of the greats in the men’s game.

“It is important,” said the 2009 Women’s Open champion. “They’ve had two Women’s Opens there, there’s no reason why the women shouldn’t be on it.”

Matthew admitted that sort of thing “frustrated” her and that was also the case over a list compiled recently by former PGA Tour player Brad Faxon on his top 10 putters in the history of the game that didn’t include any women.

“It’s a little frustrating that they think ten best putters all have to be men,” commented Matthew on that decision by Faxon, a brilliant flatstick exponent himself and now working with Rory McIlroy.

Set to take place on 19-22 August, when it is hoped that some fans will be in attendance, it will be the second Women’s Open at Carnoustie, where Taiwan’ Yani Tseng won with a 16-under-par total in 2011 before successfully defending the title at Royal Birkdale 12 months later.

Matthew finished fifth in that event just over a decade and the 51-year-old reckons the Angus course will provide another fitting test in between visits to Royal Troon, where Germany’s Sophia Popov triumphed last August, and Muirfield, where it will be staged for the first time next year.

“When people talk about full-on Carnoustie, it’s the weather that makes it full on,” said Matthew. “You don’t have to be obsessed with the length of a golf course. You can play this course at 6200 and if it’s blowing 30 mph it’s going to be a beast, a brute of a test.

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“If you play it 6800 and there’s no wind, it’s different. That one year when the men were here and it was set up tough (when Paul Lawrie won in 1999)…no-one wants to make it ridiculous. I think the way the R&A have done it, it’s very much weather dependent and that’s good.”

Eyebrows have been raised about the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina playing at a record 7,876 yards, with a slope rating of 155 and a course rating of 79.1, this week’s US PGA Championship.

“Kiawah is right on the coast and the wind could blow,” said Matthew in looking ahead to the second men’s major of the season. “To be honest, for them 7,800 isn’t that long, given they hit it 330 yards off the tee.

“The only way is to rein the golf ball in perhaps, otherwise courses start to get ridiculously long. For .01 per cent of golfers, the top level pros.

“What makes a good golf course for me is playing every club in the bag. You don’t want to be hitting a 3-wood into every par 4. It’s variety that people like, long par 4s, shorter par 4s, reachable par 5s, par 5s you can’t reach. The men’s tour is perhaps losing that variety a little, I think.

“I was using 12 clubs over the winter. The sign of a good golf course is if you walk off and think, I’ve used every club in the bag. That brings out the best golfers. You don’t want to hit driver wedge on every hole.

“Pound for pound and the distance we hit it, we play the courses longer than the men do. Our set up is where you are hitting more clubs in the bag. That’s good. Our set-up gives more variety, while the men’s is a little bit more one-dimensional. For me I would rather have more variety.”

According to the findings of a recent detailed look at the women’s game, the way courses are set up on the LPGA are not allowing players to score as well as they could, with a call having been sounded for adjustments to be made.

“Pound for pound and the distance we hit it, we play the courses longer than the men do,” said Matthew in reply to being asked about that. Our set up is where you are hitting more clubs in the bag. That’s good. Our set-up gives more variety, while the men’s is a little bit more one-dimensional. For me, I would rather have more variety.”

As well as the Carnoustie event, Matthew will also be teething it up in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish at Dumbarnie Links the previous week, but her top target this is the US Senior Women’s Open in Connecticut.

“My debut last year was cancelled (due to the pandemic),” she said of the USGA event. “The Senior Open is where I’m aiming to get a trophy again.”

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