Sports review of 2019: How Catriona Matthew delivers glory at Gleneagles

Europe captain Catriona Matthew is hoisted onto her players' shoulders to celebrate Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles. Picture: David Cannon/Getty Images
Europe captain Catriona Matthew is hoisted onto her players' shoulders to celebrate Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles. Picture: David Cannon/Getty Images
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Glory at Gleneagles was right up there with the Miracle at Medinah. Both were matches that Europe pulled out of the fire and, in some respects, this year’s Solheim Cup in Perthshire might even prove more memorable than that famous Ryder Cup of 2012.

It was getting close to the wire, after all, and Catriona Matthew’s team were staring defeat in the face against a strong United States side bidding for a ‘three-peat’ on the biennial event. The fact the contest was then flipped on its head in the matter of a few minutes, then came down to the final putt in the final match, will ensure it is talked about for many years to come.

Bronte Law, a gritty Lancastrian, played her part by delivering a vital point as she dug deep to beat Ally McDonald in the penultimate singles tie on an enthralling final day on the PGA Centenary Course.

That meant it all came down to Norwegian Suzann Pettersen and Marina Alex as they played the 18th up ahead. Pettersen, picked by 
Matthew despite playing little competitive golf in two years around the birth of her son, vindicated her captain’s belief by holding her nerve to convert a match-winning six-foot birdie putt.

The scenes of joy were fitting, with Pettersen adding to the remarkable denouement by announcing straight afterwards that she was retiring there and then. What a way to sign off and what a week for Matthew.

The North Berwick woman was cool and calculated in her captaincy. She pulled off a masterstroke by pairing Frenchwoman Celine Boutier, one of her rookies, with 2018 British Open champion Georgia Hall. They duly delivered three points out of three.

The exciting finish helped ease the pain of some shocking slow play earlier in the event and hopefully steps will be taken by the LPGA to alleviate that problem for the 2021 match. Matthew, rightly so, has been re-appointed for the encounter at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio, where she has given herself a hard act to follow.