RWBO 18: Catriona Matthew’s course guide

The 2009 British Open champion talks us through the charms and challenges of Royal Lytham & St Annes

It will be 25 years since Catriona Matthew first won over the links at Lytham when she landed the British Amateur with a 3&2 win over Kirsty Speak.

But it was nine years ago that next year’s Solheim Cup captain wrote her best-known chapter in the Lytham history when, just 11 weeks after giving birth to a second child, Sophie, and a few days after escaping a fire with her husband, the Scot became the first female major winner.

So who better to quiz on the intricacies of this year’s venue…

The 1st

“It’s definitely different starting with a par 3 and it’s not just a short one, it’s a good 5 or 6-iron. In a way it’s quite a nice start to be able to hit an iron and then get the woods out on the next.

“The course doesn’t really favour a certain shape I don’t think. I hit it with a slight draw so you have to trust yourself early on with the railway line down the right.

“But you also have to take the bunkers out of play, I maybe went in one or two fairway bunkers in 2009. They have all got revetted faces and you can’t advance it very far and 99 per cent of the time you won’t be able to reach the green.”

The bunkers

“You have to avoid the bunkers. Of all the courses that we play it is the most well bunkered and, if you go in one, it is pretty much stroke and distance. Lytham is quite a strategic course and you have to plot your way round it.

“Sometimes you are better off hitting a 5-wood for your second shot rather than a 7-iron from a bunker. So you can be left with have some tough approaches.

“With so many bunkers it takes some working out on your game plan but we should be able to prepare properly, depending on the conditions and how far your ball is running, in a couple of days. I keep all my course planners so we’ll dig those out and we’ll look at the lines of putts.

“The 10th doesn’t suit my eye, I can never quite get the right line off the tee with the mounds in front of you.

“I think I birdied the 13th every day so that must have done.”

The most difficult holes

“The hardest holes are probably the par-4 14th and 17th.

“You have to hit driver at 14 and it can play into the wind. You’ve got the bunkers down the right and rough left so you have to thread it through there.

“The 17th is a brilliant penultimate hole. There is more room right, especially off the tee, and the hole then kicks back the other way.

“I don’t know if the tee points you left but a lot of people block themselves out with the tee shot.”

The best bits

“In 2009 I went eagle-eagle (3-1) at 11 and 12 on the Friday and I’m not aware of anyone else who has done that.

“That back nine of 30 would have to be one of my best nines ever. Everything went right and it propelled me into the lead and I managed to hang on over the weekend. It was one of those stretches of holes where I had the hole-in-one and I even managed a bogey, there weren’t many pars!

“At the 18th you have the fairway bunkers up the left so you play out to the right with a slightly longer second shot in but at least you have a view of the green. This is all about the tee shot.

“The clubhouse that sits behind the green is amazing with some incredible portraits and honours boards.

“Lytham is a great venue. We always get good crowds there, the course and history of the place is incredible.

“I haven’t been back since 2009 but it’s strange how you quickly remember things and it all comes back to you.”

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