Why all of Scotland should be saluting Catriona Matthew after latest Solheim Cup triumph
Add ‘Captain Fantastic’ to the ‘Supermum’ tag Catriona Matthew earned when she won the 2009 Women’s Open at Royal Lytham 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter, Sophie.
Way too often in the past, it had been easy to think that Scots took Matthew for granted, failing to properly recognise her playing achievements, notably that major victory in extraordinary fashion in Lancashire.
It’s ironic, of course, that she has finally earned the recognition she deserved through not actually hitting a shot herself, but hey ho.
The North Berwick woman has always been the quiet type, preferring to let her clubs do the talking all the way through an illustrious playing career.
Teeing up in nine Solheim Cups, including a first win on US soil for the Europeans in 2013, was a terrific achievement, but now her name will be synonymous with the event through being one of the greatest captains to grace the biennial contest.
In one of her stints in the Sky Sports Golf commentary box at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, European assistant captain Laura Davies spoke of the “respect” Matthew had in the team room.
“We love you Beany, we do,” sang the visiting players and officials after she’d created history by becoming the first European captain to record back-to-back wins in the event.
Make no mistake, even the great Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of the way Matthew handled her players both at Gleneagles in 2019 and again in this latest contest against the Americans.
She made a bold decision to hand Suzann Pettersen one of her picks for the match in Perthshire and saw that move vindicated as the Norwegian holed the winning putt.
On this occasion, it was a Matthew masterstroke as she paired Leona Maguire, the first Irish player to compete in the match with Mel Reid.
Benefitting from that decision, Maguire picked up four-and-a-half points out of five – the best-ever debut effort in the event.
It was also a brilliant move by Matthew when she sent out Swede Madalene Sagstrom, who’d been left in tears at the end of the opening day following a rules controversy, in the first game on Sunday.
Instead of going into her shell, Sagstrom flourished when her captain needed her to in the last-day singles.
According to Matthew, this is the end of her time holding the reins, saying she is ready to let someone else, Pettersen perhaps, take over when the match is held in Spain for the first time in 2023.
All sorts of awards should be heading the Scot’s way over the coming few months and a Damehood would certainly not be out of order at some point.
I remember Matthew being tickled when she first heard her two daughters, Katie and Sophie, saying they thought she was “cool”.
They’ll certainly be thinking that right now and the whole of Scotland should be saluting “Captain Fantastic”.