Catriona Matthew makes Merion trip to help GB&I in bid to win Curtis Cup

Catriona Matthew is hoping to sprinkle some of her Solheim Cup captain’s magic on the Great Britain & Ireland players bidding to claim a rare Curtis Cup win on US soil this summer.

Hot on the heels of the eight-strong team being announced on Monday, a number of the GB&I players are meeting at Merion, venue of the 42nd edition in June, in Philadelphia over the weekend, when they are being joined by Matthew.

The double Solheim Cup-winning skipper has accepted an invitation from Elaine Ratcliffe, the GB&I captain for the second match running against the Americans, to be part of the get-together and is aiming to share lots of useful advice.

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After playing in nine Solheim Cups, the North Berwick woman led Europe to a dramatic victory at Gleneagles in 2019 before creating history by making it back-to-back wins in Toledo, Ohio, last year.

“It’s very exciting, especially to deal with girls at that age,” said Matthew of a team that includes Broomieknowe 18-year-old Hannah Darling and 22-year-old Louise Duncan from West Kilbride after they were among six players to retain spots from last year’s defeat at Conwy.

“It’s a bit like the Solheim in many ways, but they obviously don’t have the experience. Hopefully I can give them some knowledge. As I said to Elaine, the captain, even if they take just one thing from me then it will be worthwhile.”

Matthew played three times in the Curtis Cup, including two matches in the US. The first one in 1990 ended in a heavy defeat at Somerset Hills in New Jersey, but she then helped the visitors secure a 9-9 draw on the Honors Course in Chattanooga four years later.

GB&I’s only win in the event on US soil came in 1986 at Prairie Dunes in Kansas while the last six away matches have ended in defeat, including a 17-3 thumping at Quaker Ridge in New York four years ago,

European captain Catriona Matthew lifs the Solheim Cup aloft after her team's win at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, last year. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

“I’ll help them prepare in various ways,” added Matthew. “A Curtis Cup in American is tough. But most of the GB&I players are US-college based. There’s no excuses, really, as they all play out there. When you know the players you’re up against, too, that helps.

“I remember my first one in 1990, you’re nearly overwhelmed by it all. I played two away and one at home. The first one was quite daunting. I was completely under prepared and taken aback by it all. I did learn, though.”

Matthew, who was speaking in her new role as tournament ambassador for the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, is trying to get her own game to “peak” this year for the US Senior Women’s Open in Ohio in late August.

In the meantime, she is enjoying watching the likes of Darling, Duncan and also Grace Crawford, winner of both the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open and the R&A Girls Under-16 Amateur within the past fortnight, all making real headway.

Catriona Matthew tees off at Dundonald Links, venue for this year's event, in her new role as tournament ambassdaor for the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open. Picture: Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open

“It’s nice to see a few coming through and all at the same time. That helps, too, as they push each other on,” said the 2009 Women’s Open champion, who is also excited to see one of her Solheim Cup vice-captains and also a long-time friend, Kathryn Imrie, taking up a post as performance coach with Scottish Golf in June.

“She’s the ideal candidate for this type of role,” said Matthew. “She has all the experience of playing, plus coaching. When she finished playing, she went into teaching, so she has that background to her which will be a great benefit to the young ones coming through. She’s such a bubbly, enthusiastic person, too.”

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