Solheim Cup: Confident Catriona Matthew senses drama will go down to wire
Sent out first by Alison Nicholas at Killeen Castle in Ireland in 2011, the Scot set the tone for the home side with a brilliant 6&5 win over Paula Creamer, inspiring her European team-mates to pull off a 15-13 victory over the Americans.
Eight years on, the teams are tied at 8-8 and Matthew will have to rely on others to do the business on the final day, with the North Berwick woman picking Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, who topped the qualifying race for her team, to lead the way in the ten head-to-head matches that will decide the 16th edition.
“I would rate them pretty good,” said Matthew of Europe’s chances of stopping Juli Inkster and her American side coming out on top for the third match running, a feat that would earn the US skipper a place in the record books. “We won [the singles] in Ireland and I think we’ve got a good chance. The first two days you can tell there’s not too much to pick between the two teams, so we’re going in with a lot of confidence that we can do it tomorrow.”
After seeing the US lead at one point in all four of the afternoon fourballs on the second day, Matthew was delighted that Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier fought back to win and another of her pairings, Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, secured a hard-earned half.
“I think you always want to be going in ahead, but tied is good and we’re probably a bit chippier tonight than we were last night. So I think it bodes well for tomorrow,” she added. “It’s going to be pretty tight again. It’s going to come down to one long putt, a chip-in, something like that. I think it will be a small thing that changes it one way or another.”
Inkster, who has sent out Danielle Kang at the top of her order, reckons the US are in a good position to complete her hat-trick and claim an 11th win overall in the biennial match.
“I’m ecstatic to be where we’re at right now,” she said. Referring to a gusting wind, the US captain added: “It was tough out there for those girls, but they stayed strong. Hopefully the weather will be a little better tomorrow and we can see some really good golf from the Euros and the USA. We want a good battle for the cup. That’s what these girls do.”