In two years’ time the Solheim Cup will return to Scotland for the third time with Gleneagles playing host to the most exciting, dramatic and, quite often, controversial week on the ladies’ biennial calendar. We now have a date for the matches – September 13-15 – which is two weeks before the men played the Ryder Cup here in 2014 and, at some point towards the end of the year, we will likely have a captain.
The clever money is on Scotland’s Catriona Matthew who this week has been named as am ambassador for VisitScotland. This year she will act as one of Annika Sorenstam’s vice-captains though, again, if you were to part with a few quid you would fancy her to make the team for a ninth time.
This week, in a breakfast gathering at Gleneagles, a collection of journalists sat down with the 47-year-old to discuss a variety of topics which included a possible membership to her local club, Muirfield.
How has your form been this season?
It hasn’t been the greatest of starts (Matthew’s best finish is a tie for 30th in five starts on the LPGA Tour), I’ve gone back to my old coach Kevin Craggs and we’ve been working hard and making a few changes. It has been a bitty start, there haven’t been a whole load of events so I’ve been doing a lot of practice and working on some new things. It’s probably the most practice that I’ve done for a few years. We’ve got three majors in six weeks from the end of June onwards so that’s when you want to start playing well.
What particularly have you been working on?
I’ve been getting a bit steep, I’ve changed my backswing a little bit and am trying to rotate my left forearm a little bit and get a bit flatter on the way down. And we’re working hard on my footwork and trying to get onto my left heel a little bit better.
What are your playing memories of Gleneagles?
I played in the McDonalds WPGA Championship on the King’s Course and won that (by five shots) from Laura Davies and Alfie and there was a matchplay event on the Centenary.
For an emerging player on the LET is the early-season schedule enough?
Not really, to be honest. If you were an emerging player playing in Europe you just about need to have a part-time job, I’d say, to keep you going.
The tour does get better towards the second half of the year. The economy in Europe at the moment isn’t great with all that’s going on. It’s just a tough sell to get tournaments. A lot of the top players go to America. It’s a shame but it’s quite difficult.
How do you view the make-up of the Solheim Cup team?
In the last five or six matches the majority played in the US and there were a couple of players purely from Europe. There is always a good mixture, Georgia Hall has a good chance this year. I played with her in Japan in the team event and she is a great player and great putter.
I have played my whole career on the LPGA but I am still European and have always felt very Scottish.
How do you see your chances of making the side?
I will have to play well from mid May onwards, it is relatively early days and there is still a lot to play for. I’ll play the Scottish, British and Evian in Europe, to play extra tournaments is hard with two children and I don’t want to play more than 23 events a year.
And what about playing and being a vice-captain?
I would only play if I felt like I was playing well. Hopefully I have played in enough matches to know if I was playing well enough.
Juli Inkster did it in Ireland and I spoke to her about that and it is definitely feasible. Obviously I wouldn’t sit in on the meeting to decide the captain’s picks!
What did you make of the Lexi Thompson ruling at the ANA?
Obviously it was all a bit unfortunate, she broke the rule and did move the ball and I think the LPGA handled it as well as they could in the circumstances.
Perhaps they could have taken her to one side rather than carry it out in front of the TV cameras. She obviously played the best golf that week and it put a bit of a dampener on the event.
Have you ever had anything similar?
I had something at Lytham, I was in the rubbish and hit it. I thought the ball had hit me and we looked at it after and it had. But never after I have signed my card, I don’t think you should be able to phone in and certainly not the next day.
To get another two-shot penalty seemed harsh.
Is there an invite on the way for membership to Muirfield?
Do you know something that I don’t?! Obviously living down there it would be fantastic to be a member, I’m not sure if pros can be members but there are things in motion, I’m going to play there in a few weeks and we will explore it further then.
They are probably going to do it properly rather than have a few token women members. I think they are going to let in a fair chunk, the normal process is maybe about five years to get in as a member.
I’d love to be a member. I have only played it a few times but it is a great place to play and practise, I only live five minutes away and my husband would love a few games there.