Golf: Matthew and Booth face a tough challenge at Hoylake

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North BERWICK’S Catriona Matthew and Comrie youngster Carly Booth are the only Scots at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, and they both face a tough challenge to make it to the weekend at Hoylake.

While 16-year-old English amateur Charley Hull and Wales’ Lydia Hall led the British challenge on one under par 71, Matthew was the top Scot on four over par 76 and tied for 74th. Only the top 65 make the cut.

Booth, a two-time winner and the leader of the European Order of Merit, was another shot back on 77 on a day that was breezy but much kinder to the players than the gales and rain of the practice days.

Rain and strong winds were forecast for today – so anything close to par could prove to be the winning score on Sunday.

Despite the relatively easy first day conditions, only 11 players broke par and no-one was under 70. South Koreans Haeji Kang and So Yeon Ryu led on two under 70.

Matthew, out at 7.10 in the morning, opened with a birdie, but her day was ruined by a lost ball in a bush and a double-bogey at the long fifth (her 14th).

“I had one really bad hole and I didn’t hole enough putts,” summed up the 2009 champion. “Hopefully it will be better today.”

Booth, making her first appearance in a women’s major, had double-bogeys at the third and fourth, but did make a little bit of a late rally with birdies at the short 15th and long 16th.

Hull has a great pedigree. She helped Great Britain and Ireland beat the USA to win the Curtis Cup at Nairn in June and she has made the cut in all her four previous professional tournaments.

She even finished fifth at the Turkish Open in May. “I don’t get too nervous,” she admitted. “I just pretend I’m playing with my mates.”

But her caddie – she just knows him as Mark – had the wobbles. His motorbike was stolen from outside his Liverpool hotel overnight and he had to spend a £30 taxi fare and made the 7.40am starting time with just minutes to spare.