Catriona Matthew has travelled nearly 4500 miles to make her seventh Solheim Cup appearance later this week.
However, the 43-year-old’s journey to Denver as part of a new-look European team started a lot closer to her North Berwick home.
Just under two years ago, Matthew produced a masterclass to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links.
She carded rounds of 70, 65 and 66 on the Fidra Course for a 15-under-par aggregate and a runaway ten-shot victory.
It was the perfect confidence boost as Matthew helped Europe win a thrilling Solheim Cup match in Ireland a month later. And that victory is also one of the reasons the Scot will head into this week’s Colorado clash with the Americans as the world No. 8.
“Any win is good, but there’s no doubt my victory in the Ladies Scottish Open two years ago was one of the better ones,” she admitted. “There was added pressure due to the fact I was trying to win on my own doorstep while I also went into the event as one of the favourites.
“Both those factors made it more difficult for me but I went out and played really well that week, especially in the final two rounds. It was a great feeling to win so close to home and also at Archerfield Links, where I play and practise when I’m at home.
“It was the springboard for me to go on and have a strong finish to the season in the Solheim Cup and then winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on the LPGA Tour.
“I definitely got some confidence from the Ladies Scottish Open win and, thankfully, I’ve managed to keep that over the past two years.”
Matthew, the current European No. 2 behind Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, will again be the star attraction at Archerfield Links when it stages this year’s £180,000 event on August 30-September 1.
And she’s hoping one of the most popular tournaments on the Ladies European Tour schedule will have an added buzz to it by Solheim Cup history being created this weekend.
“It would be great if this year’s Ladies Scottish Open was taking place on the back of a European victory in Denver,” admitted Matthew. “We’ve never won out in the States, so it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll certainly be giving it our best shot.
“It’s a new-look team this time with the make-up having changed quite a lot from my first few Solheim Cup appearances. Laura Davies is not playing for the first time since the match was inaugurated, while the likes of Sophie Gustafson and Trish Johnson are no longer part of the team after both being involved for a long time.
“But there’s still some terrific talent on the team, including 17-year-old Charley Hull, who has enjoyed a great start to her professional career. It was just over a year ago that she helped Great Britain & Ireland win the Curtis Cup up at Nairn. She’s taken the step up in her stride and I am sure she can cope with the pressure that comes with playing in the Solheim Cup.”
The same will hopefully be the case one day for Carly Booth, who is returning to East Lothian at the end of the month as the defending champion.
It’s the fourth year in a row that Archerfield Links has staged the event under the Aberdeen Asset Management banner and Matthew heaped praise on both the host and sponsor.
“It’s a great venue and I know that all the other players share that opinion,” she said. “As well as being home to a couple of very good courses, it’s also very family-friendly and that’s important. As for Aberdeen Asset Management, it was no surprise to hear someone like Padraig Harrington singing their praise during this year’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
“As well as sponsoring professionals like myself, they support Scottish golf down into the amateur ranks and that’s antastic.
“They’ve put a lot of money into the game in this country over the past few years and it definitely helps that [chief executive] Martin Gilbert is so keen on his golf.
“As has been the case in recent years, I’d imagine that some of the up-and-coming Scottish women professionals will get spots at Archerfield.
“It’s difficult for players to take full advantage of these sort of opportunities, especially with the Ladies European Tour having such strength in depth these days, but they’ve just got to go out and enjoy it as much as they can and use it as part of their learning curve.”
n You can watch Catriona Matthew in action from Friday, August 30 to Sunday, September 1 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links. Entry is free.