According to an invitation to take part in a conference call with Catriona Matthew next week, it is already known that the North Berwick woman “will be representing Team GB in the Olympics this year”. In fairness to the person who sent that out, it is getting tantalisingly close to that being a statement of fact. Not quite yet, though.
England’s Charley Hull, sitting 28th in the women’s world rankings, has almost certainly secured one of the two spots up for grabs in the Great Britain team for Rio, with Matthew in pole position to claim the other as the battle for berths enters the final few laps.
The Scot is lying 75th on the world list; her nearest and only real challenger, Hull’s compatriot Holly Clyburn, is 96th. There is still time for those positions to change, but Matthew has given her younger rival little in the way of scraps to feed off in her bid to jump above the 46-year-old.
Given the way she has started some events – just last week, for example, she opened with a 65 in the LPGA Classic – Matthew will, no doubt, probably be a tad disappointed that her best finish in 11 events is joint-ninth in the Australian Open, just shading a top-15 effort in the LPGA Tour’s Swinging Skirts event in San Francisco.
However, it was probably consistency more than anything else that the 2009 British Women’s Open champion needed this year in her bid to add Olympian to a glittering CV, and top-50 finishes in the nine cuts she’s made are just what the doctor ordered.
Her position in that race to Rio could be stengthened come Sunday night or, on the other hand, weakened. Both Matthew and Clyburn are in the field for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which starts today at Sammamish in Washington. It’s a major that has brought out the best in the Scot in the past. Just three years ago, in fact, she finished second to Inbee Park, who has successfully defended the title twice since and is now bidding to stretch her winning sequence in the event to four in a row.
While golf’s return to the Olympics after an absence of more than 100 years came too late for Colin Montgomerie, he’ll set out equally as determined as Matthew today to get into the mix in a major. Less than a fornight after coming up just short in his bid to win the Senior PGA Championship for the third year running, the eight-time European No 1 is in Philadelphia for the Constellation Senior Players Championship.
It’s being held at Philadelphia Cricket Club, where the Scot will be aiming to hit his title rivals for six.
In fairness, he didn’t do much wrong in that Senior PGA Championship a fortnight ago. He simply ran into Rocco Mediate in the week it was meant to be for the charismatic American.
It was Montgomerie’s best event of a fairly quiet season so far and now he will be aiming to use this week to maintain a head of steam for tests such as trying to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Troon and also, of course, the Senior Open at Carnoustie.
On the European Tour, meanwhile, newly-crowned PGA champion and title holder Chris Wood tops the bill in the Lyoness Open, which starts today at Diamond Country Club in Austria.