Catriona Matthew heaps praise on 'very impressive' Grace Crawford
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Fifteen-year-old Crawford won the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open at Royal Troon just a fortnight ago, becoming the first Scottish player to claim that coveted title for 20 years.
Brimming with confidence, she then added the R&A Girls’ Under-16 Amateur at Enville in the Midlands, where the West Links player finished four shots ahead of a strong field.
“It’s very impressive,” said Matthew, the new tournament ambassador for the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, of Crawford’s double success during a trip home from the Bahamas, where she is a member of Albany Golf Academy.
“It’s great she is still playing age group events. The danger is you can jump too soon up another level. It’s a great experience to win a lot, at whatever level. The winning feeling is invaluable. It’s great to get used to that feeling.”
Crawford’s title triumphs have come on the back of Louise Duncan and Hannah Darling winning the Women’s Amateur and Girls’ Amateur Championships respectively last year.
They’ve also just been selected for the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team for the second match running, with this year’s edition taking place at Merion in June.
“Grace, Hannah and Louise all seem to have their heads screwed on,” observed Matthew, who is involved with Scottish Golf in a mentoring role and also now sits on the board along with fellow major winner Paul Lawrie.
“They are focussed and have that quiet determination. They get the job done. I played with Grace a few times. It’s nice to see her progressing, getting stronger and fitter.”
Two-time winner Matthew is not playing in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links later in the year, but that’s partly due to trying to keep her powder dry for an exciting event taking place on her doorstep.
“I’m resting up for Muirfield,” said Matthew, smiling, of the East Lothian course staging the AIG Women’s Open for the first time in early August.
“It’s tough when you’re not playing and practising a huge amount. You’re not that competitive. But I’m getting ready for Muirfield and I’m trying to peak for the US Senior Women’s Open.”
There’s not a British equivalent yet, but Matthew hopes that might change soon. “It’s been successful in the US,” she said. “You need the top names and Annika Sorenstam is playing then you’ll Karrie Webb soon.
“You look at the men’s game and they hit 50 and have huge opportunities. To be honest, though, I’m quite happy to play a limited schedule. My kids are a bit older now but they are the stage when they want me home a bit more.
“With Covid being around the last couple of years, I’ve been naturally winding down. I wasn’t playing great either so it felt the time was right. I’m never going to say I’m going to retire, I’ll still pop up every so often.
“But, after the two Solheim Cups as captain it was a natural progression just to wind down. And age catches up with you, too.”