Catriona Matthew is still hoping to turn her Solheim Cup vice-captaincy into a ninth playing appearance for Europe in next month’s event in Des Moines – but the North Berwick woman reckons it will take two big performances on Scottish soil over the next 11 days to make that happen.
Her first target is a third title triumph in the £1.2 million Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, which gets underway at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire today.
The 47-year-old won that event twice at Archerfield Links and beating an even stronger field due to it now being co-sanctioned by the LPGA would certainly be timely.
As would a strong showing at Kingsbarns next week in the Ricoh Women’s British Open – the major won by Matthew at Royal Lytham in 2009.
“Obviously these are a big two weeks for me and hopefully I can have a good couple of tournaments,” she said before spearheading a nine-strong home challenge in the Scottish Open.
“Results have been pretty poor this year for me, but, apart from one round at the US Open (a 79 on the Saturday as she finished in a tie for 44th at Trump National in New Jersey), I felt as though I played.
“I’m starting to swing it a lot better than I did at the start of the year and I feel as though I’m hitting the ball well. I’m confident with where my game is, but obviously I know realistically I need two good finishes these weeks.”
Matthew, the long-time Scottish No.1, is back working with Kevin Craggs and added: “I think I lost my way a little bit with my swing.
“We have been working on a few things with my backswing and feel as though it’s all coming together. I just feel as though I’ve got more of a focus back in my game now.”
Matthew made her first Solheim Cup appearance in 1998 and has missed just two matches since then – the 2001 encounter at Loch Lomond, where she was controversially overlooked by fellow Scot Dale Reid.
Skippering the side in the 2019 match at Gleneagles would partly help make up for that disappointment and being one of Annika Sorenstam’s vice captains in Iowa can only strengthen her chances of landing that job.
But Matthew will not allow the curtain to come down on her playing career in the biennial event – Europe will be the trying to win the trophy back after a narrow defeat in Germany in 2015 – without a fight.
“I think I’ve played enough myself that I know I’ve got to produce a good couple of weeks here,” she replied to being asked if former world No.1 Sorenstam had told her where she stood in terms of still having a chance of making the Swede’s team in a playing capacity.
“It depends on a lot of factors and who qualifies and how other people play. We’ll just need to wait and see what happens these two weeks. It’s a big two weeks for probably a few of us going for those last couple of spots.
“I’ve got to go out there and play pretty well, just like the other ones do. At the end of the day, it comes down to results, perhaps a little bit of experience helping on my part a little. I think it just depends perhaps on the make up of the team.”
Musselburgh’s Vikki Laing will be aiming use the event’s new elevated status to boost her position on the LET’s money-list. The former Scottish Girls’ champion will also be looking to be on form for next Monday’s British Women’s Open qualifier at the Castle Course at St Andrews.