Catriona Matthew’s Lytham love affair continued with two more memorable moments in the second round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Nine years after winning this event at the Lancashire venue to become the first Scot to land a women’s major, the 48-year-old holed out twice over the closing stretch.
She chipped in for an eagle at the par-5 14th before raising the biggest roar of the day in the stands around the 18th by holing from a greenside bunker for a closing birdie.
The late heroics gave Matthew a second-round 70 for a three-under-par 141 total, leaving her handily-placed heading into the weekend in the fourth women’s major of the season.
“That was nice – it makes a difference to your score,” said the North Berwick woman of her finish. “The chip at the 15th, to be fair, was a bit strong but it hit the middle of the pin and dropped in. You’ve got to take your breaks in this game.
“The last few holes were tough as the weather turned a bit nasty and I hit a really good rescue on to the 17th green to make par there.
“For the second day in a row, I hit a poor drive down the left at the last but I was a bit unlucky to see my second shot, again with a rescue club, go into the bunker.
“The bunker shot was always going to be close but it was a bonus that it went in. It’s always nice when you raise a roar like that at the last.”
Matthew sits seven shots off the lead, held by Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, but the Scottish No.1 is in the top 20 and is feeling quietly confident about her chances of getting into the mix again here.
“I feel as though I am playing quite well,” she added. “I’ve been struggling a bit to make cuts this season but now I’ve achieved that here I can relax over the weekend and see what happens.
“I’ve putted well so far this week and have been able to take my chances when they’ve come along.
“When I missed the cut in the Ladies Scottish Open at Gullane last week, I think I was a bit too tenative in the second round and I’ve tried to stay a bit more aggressive with my tee shots this week.”
As was the case in 2009, Matthew has her husband, Graeme, on the bag this week and the pair have been enjoying a walk down memory lane.
“I’ve dragged Graeme out of retirement for a couple of weeks and our partnership is working well here so far,” she said. “It’s always nice to come back to a course that you’ve played well on.”
Phatlum, a 28-year-old, has defied making the cut just once in seven previous appearances in this event to lead on 10-under after a pair of bogey-free 67s.
She faces the biggest test of her career in the final two rounds, especially with 22-year-old English star Georgia Hall set to have the home support behind her.
Hall made her Solheim Cup debut in Des Moines last year and already looks a certainty to be on the European side Matthew will captain at Gleneagles next September.
“I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Georgia for the Solheim Cup,” admitted Matthew. “She’s maybe not played as well this year as she did last year, but she played pretty well last week and it’s great to see her right up there here.
“She’s a really nice girl and would definitely be good to have in the team next year.”
Others in contention at the halfway stage include newly-crowned Ladies Scottish Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn and Australian Minjee Lee, the runner-up at Gullane.
But a number of big guns missed the cut, including top-ranked British player Charley Hull and former world No.1 Laura Davies.