Daughters keep Catriona Matthew ‘grounded’ over North Berwick honour

Better late than never. For too long, it seemed that Catriona Matthew never really got the credit she deserved in her home country for everything she’d achieved in the game. Not any more, though.

Double Solheim Cup-winning captain Catriona Matthew cutting the ribbon of at the official opening of the lounge now bearing her name at North Berwick Golf Club. Picture: North Berwick Golf Club.

The double Solheim Cup-winning captain was recently recognised as Coach of the Year in the Scottish Women in Sport Awards and, even better, has now earned an ever-lasting honour from her home club.

A clubhouse lounge at North Berwick, where Matthew has been a member since the age of 12, has been reopened bearing her name. Though not someone who has ever really liked being the centre of attention, the 52-year-old didn’t mind on the occasion of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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“That was a great night and they’ve done it really nicely with the photos etc,” Matthew, the 2009 British Women’s Open champion and easily Scotland’s most successful women professional over the past 20 years, told Scotland on Sunday.

Suzann Pettersen, who had been handed a controversial wildcard by Catriona Matthew, celebrates after holing the winning putt in the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP.

“To have a lounge named after me is a huge honour. Especially at a golf club that is ranked in the top 40 in the world. It’s been my home club, my mum and dad were both captains, for a long time and it’s got a real family connection for me.

“These are things you can never imagine when you start playing. Even when you are playing, you never imagine something like that happening one day. I am delighted.”

As, she thinks, are daughters Sophie and Katie, “I think the girls are, too, though in their own way,” she added, laughing. “They don’t like saying too much. They keep you grounded shall we say.

“They’re not really into golf yet - it’s swimming and hockey for them at the moment - though we might try and do a big push next summer with me not travelling as much.”

Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew lifts the Solheim Cup aloft after her side's win at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

For the Solheim Cup alone, Matthew has clocked up thousands of air miles, having played nine times in the biennial event before creating history as the first European captain to beat the Americans back-to-back.

While Juli Inkster tried to make a three-peat for the US at Gleneagles in 2019, Matthew said she was happy to call it a day after September’s second success, having since been succeeded at the European helm by Suzann Pettersen for the 2023 match in Spain.

“It was definitely the right time and the right decision not to do it again,” she said. “It’s a bit sad not to be doing, but all good things come to an end and I think you have to give other people that opportunity.

“It’s such an honour to do it in the first place and there’s a natural progression. It’s Suzann’s turn now and there will be someone else ready to step in after her. You want to give everyone the opportunity to have a chance.”

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Matthew’s captaincy will forever be remembered. Her team won a thriller at Gleneagles as Pettersen holed a testing final putt on the last green. They then overcame all sorts of odds to repeat the feat at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

“None whatsoever, actually,” she replied without a hint of hesitation to being asked if she’d had any doubts about taking on the captaincy in the first place. “I was delighted to be asked and, in the last few I’d played in, you were perhaps thinking about being captain. It was something I always wanted to do and I was delighted to get that opportunity.

“I think I just went into thinking, ‘if you win, everything you’ve done is going to be great and if you lose, people are going to second guess what you did’. If you go with that attitude, there isn’t too much point reading things into what other people might have to say.”

Her decision to hand Pettersen a wildcard for the Gleneagles match despite the fact she’d hardly played in 2019 after becoming a mother for the first time will go down as one of the best calls by either a Solheim Cup or Ryder Cup captain.

“Yeah, it probably was one of the biggest decisions I made,” she admitted. “But both Kathryn [Imrie] and Laura [Davies], my two vice-captains, agreed 100 per cent as well. It wasn’t as though they were saying I was silly picking her. I think getting that reassurance from them made it a lot easier for me to go out and pick her.

“But, for me, she was always someone who was in the back of my mind for Gleneagles. We were always trying to encourage her to get out there playing again.

“I think she will be good as a captain now. She has the passion for the Solheim, having played in it nine times, I think, as well and having been vice captain she knows what also goes on behind the scenes.”

What now for Matthew? “I don’t know, just Christmas,” she said, laughing. “I’ll probably play a couple of Senior events next year and hopefully the AIG Women’s British Open. Hopefully I can play in that until I don’t know what age, but I’d certainly like to play next year at Muirfield.

“I might play a few LET as well, but not many, just a few here and there. The US Senior Open will be my main focus next year and it would be lovely to win that. Alfie [Helen Alfredsson] and Annika [Sorenstam] have all managed to do that in recent years and it would be great to keep the European tradition going.”

Matthew missed out on picking up her Scottish Women in Sport Coach of the Year Award due to her playing in Spain at the time. All things being well, though, she’ll be in St Andrews during the 150th Open next July to receive the Golf Writers’ Trophy on behalf of her team after they beat world No 1 and US Open champion Jon Rahm in the vote for that coveted prize,

“It always seems odd to pick up an award when I didn’t hit a shot, but I had two good teams,” she said, laughing.

Make no mistake, those two teams also had a very good captain.

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