Catriona Matthew has been named by Annika Sörenstam as a vice-captain for next year’s Solheim Cup, a step that points to the North Berwick woman being groomed to succeed the Swede for the 2019 match at Gleneagles.
“Catriona is a long-time friend and well-respected veteran of the game,” said Sorenstam in announcing the Scot’s appointment for the match at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.
“As a major winner who has competed in numerous Solheim Cups, I’m very excited to welcome her to our team.
“She will be a tremendous asset, thanks not only to her experience playing the biggest events, but also because she is currently active on both the LPGA and the LET.”
Matthew has played in eight Solheim Cups, including Europe’s first success on US soil in 2011, when her half point against Gerina Piller secured the historic victory in Denver.
“I’m really delighted to be vice-captain to Annika,” admitted Matthew of an honour that comes hot on the heels of her qualifying for the Olympics in Rio next month at the age of 46.
“It’s a great honour as she’s probably the best woman golfer there’s ever been and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Matthew and Sorenstam competed on four European teams together - in 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2007 - and formed a successful partnership, winning a combined total of two foursomes and one fourball match together.
“It’s a long way off still but it’s a possibility,” said the Scot of potentially making her ninth playing appearance in the event next year. “I’ll see how I’m playing next year and go from there.”
Matthew’s many highlights from the event include holing the winning putt at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club in Sweden in 2003 and thumping Paula Creamer 6&5 in the singles at Killeen Castle in Ireland in 2011.
“I love the Solheim Cup and it’s my favourite week each time it comes round every two years,” added the former Ricoh Women’s British Open champion.
“It’s just so different for a golfer to be in a team environment where you’ve got your team-mates and the captains and vice-captains.
“Golf is such an individual sport that it just makes it great fun. I’ve got great memories from it.”
Matthew’s appoinment, which was made on the eve of her competing in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in Scotland and wish her and the team the best of luck,” she said.
Matthew said she would definitely be throwing her hat in the ring for the 2019 captaincy after Scotland beat off stiff competition to win the bidding war for that match.
It will be the third time the biennial event has been staged in the home of golf after Dalmahoy (1992) and Loch Lomond (2000).