Catriona Matthew almost certain to captain Europe at Gleneagles

Catriona Matthew was one of the stars at Des Moines Country Club but will not play another Solheim Cup. Picture: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Catriona Matthew was one of the stars at Des Moines Country Club but will not play another Solheim Cup. Picture: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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Catriona Matthew is confident she would have sufficient talent at her disposal to lead Europe to Solheim Cup success on Scottish soil in two years.

The North Berwick woman is the obvious candidate for the home captaincy at Gleneagles, where the Americans will be aiming for a third successive victory in the event following a 16.5-11.5 victory in Des Moines on Sunday.

Matthew had already thrown her hat into the ring for that job after Scotland won the bidding battle to stage the match for a third time after being held at Dalmahoy in 1992 then Loch Lomond eight years later.

And, having now called time on her Solheim playing career following a ninth appearance in the contest, she seems certain to be handed the honour, especially with Annika Sorenstam having said she has no intention of having a second bite at the cherry.

Europe’s defeat here came at a time when the Ladies European Tour is in disarray, with chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh having been dismissed recently in the wake of five events being lost from this season’s schedule.

Matthew called for that action to be taken on the eve of last month’s Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns and she is confident the LET can be on a better footing by the time the next match comes around.

At the same time, though, she is adamant that Europe losing on this occasion had nothing do with a lack of talent on the LET, a point backed up by the fact that rookie Georgia Hall was one of the star players for the visitors.

“I don’t think the issues the Tour are having is anything to do with the standard of the players,” said Matthew, speaking after it had emerged that both the LPGA and the men’s European Tour had started moves to put forward some sort of rescue plan for the circuit.

“There’s a lot of good young European players coming through, including some good Scandinavians and French ones. I think the talent is there. They just need to get the tournaments for them to play in.”

Matthew moved to within three points of joining Laura Davies as the top points scorer of all time in the Solheim Cup after excelling as a late replacement for the injured Suzann Pettersen.

But the 47-year-old will not be tempted by the opportunity to become the most successful player ever in the event, insisting this was her swansong as a player.

“I think I should go out on a high,” she said. “I know that I am now just three points behind Laura, but two years is a long time. I think it’s time for some younger players to take over.”

After winning two foursomes matches with Karine Icher of France, the Scot came from three down early on to beat Stacy Lewis on the last in the concluding singles.

“It was an amazing week for me,” she admitted. “Initially I was disappointed not to be playing then excited about being vice-captain then I did get in. I’m just pleased that I played so well.

“It was difficult coming in as a last-minute replacement, and I had some big shoes to fill taking over from Suzann, but I certainly felt that I did my part for the team.”

Matthew now moves on to this week’s Canadian Open and is hoping her effort here can be the catalyst for a strong end to the LPGA season.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence as I played some good golf on all three days, though especially in the singles,” she said.

“I played really well on the back nine against Stacy under real pressure and hopefully I can take that into the end of the season.”

As for what lies ahead after that, Matthew, who turns 48 on Friday, added: “I will definitely still be playing on the LPGA Tour. I will know when the time is right to stop.

“The standard on the LPGA gets higher every year. It gets tougher and tougher all the time to compete out there.

“You’ve got the players here and then the Asian and rest of the world players. So, yes, it is tough, but no-one has ever said it was easy.”