CATRIONA MATTHEW stamped her class on the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies’ Scottish Open as she strode to victory in her snazzy Solheim Cup shoes at Archerfield Links.
But the North Berwick star won’t be trying to see if they can bring her more luck when she bids to cap an excellent major campaign this year by winning the Evian Masters in a fortnight’s time.
“I think I’ll be retiring these shoes after this win,” declared Matthew, as the 44-year-old savoured claiming the title in her home Open for the second time in three years at the East Lothian venue.
A ten-shot winner in 2011, she had to settle for a two-shot success over England’s Hannah Burke on this occasion after closing with a 70 for an eight-under-par aggregate of 208.
But, coming on the back of Matthew helping Europe record a first Solheim Cup victory on US soil then her heading straight to the Canadian Women’s Open, it was another remarkable performance from the long-time Scottish No. 1.
“This is just as special as two years ago,” insisted Matthew as she sat in the luxurious Archerfield clubhouse with the crystal trophy in front of her and two young daughters, Katie and Sophie, at her side.
“Any win is difficult and all week here people have probably expected me to win. Even more so after taking a three-shot lead into the final round, so I’m pleased to have come out on top.”
It was the 11th win of her professional career and the first title Matthew, who had husband Graeme caddying for her, had secured for a second time.
She headed to Norway straight afterwards for a company day there today along with Colin Montgomerie, a winner as well yesterday on the European Senior Tour.
After a hectic few weeks, Matthew, the world No. 10, is already looking forward to a forthcoming family holiday in Mallorca. But, before that, she’s off to France next week for the Evian Masters – the fifth and final major of the women’s season.
“I know myself what I want to do,” replied Matthew to being asked if she set targets at the start of a new campaign. “I want to compete in the majors and feel I’ve done that this year.”
The Scot, winner of the Women’s British Open in 2009, lost to Inbee Park in a play-off for the LPGA Championship and has finished in the top 15 in the other three. “I’ve played well in four and still have one to go,” she added.
Six ahead with ten holes to play yesterday, Matthew had her lead trimmed to just two after dropping a shot at the ninth, then seeing Burke follow an eagle at the 11th with a birdie at the 12th. “Hannah pushed me the whole way,” admitted the local heroine. “It was very difficult out there and I didn’t think anyone would shoot four-under, as she did.”
Back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th – she holed putts from around 30 feet at both – restored a cushion for Matthew before she then ran up a rare double-bogey. It came at the 16th, which, in fairness, has a ridge that runs right across the middle of the green from left to right and can be a tricky hole for a relatively short par-4.
“I was protecting against hitting it left and missed the green on the right, but it was still a silly-three putt,” admitted Matthew.
With Burke, a 25-year-old from Welwyn Garden City – Nick Faldo’s hometown – rounding off her fine closing round with a birdie at the last around the same time, it meant Matthew was back to holding a two-shot lead again.
But two solid pars to finish secured the £27,000 top prize for Matthew and a third professional victory on Scottish soil.
Defending champion Carly Booth and Pamela Pretswell finished joint-fourth, with Heather MacRae joint-sixth, making it four Scots in the top ten. “That is great, especially after only myself and Carly played in this year’s Women’s British Open,” said Matthew of that feat.
Musselburgh’s Vikki Laing finished in a share of 34th on 225 after a closing 76.