Catriona Matthew praised by new US skipper Stacy Lewis for Solheim Cup success

Stacy Lewis, the new US captain, has heaped praise on Catriona Matthew for her leadership qualities in back-to-back Solheim Cup successes.

The North Berwick woman created history as the first European captain to record consecutive triumphs in the biennial contest with her wins at Gleneagles in 2019 then Toledo last year.

“Catriona had the respect of those players,” said Lewis, speaking as she was announced as the US captain for the 2023 match in Spain, where she will lock horns with Suzann Pettersen, Matthew’s successor.

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“They respected her from her playing days and coming back from having a kid and still winning and competing as long as she did.”

Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew lifts the Solheim Cup aloft after her second success in the event in last year's match at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

In her ninth and final playing appearance, Matthew beat Lewis by one hole in the singles in Des Moines in 2017.

“She’s got a quiet confidence and I think her players saw that and they played to her level of confidence she had in them,” added the two-time major winner. “I think that’s what made Catriona the leader she was and why those teams did so well.

“She did a great job of putting the right people in the singles line ups as far as those players being able to handle those big moments and, ultimately, that’s why we lost.”

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Lewis is a well-known figure in Scotland, having won the Women’s British Open at St Andrews in 2013 before adding the Scottish Women’s Open at The Renaissance Club two years ago.

“That Open at St Andrews for me is still top of the list as far as playing goes,” admitted the 36-year-old. “I don’t think there is anything I could do in my career that would top that.

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“You do all these great things in the game of golf. I’ve gotten in the Arkansas Hall of Fame, for example, and things like that, but to be picked as a Solheim Cup captain is on a completely different level than winning a golf tournament.

“There’s the respect of your past captains to see you are ready and to pick you. To just be able to lead your country, gosh, what an honour, and it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

Next year’s match is being played at Finca Cortesin in southern Spain. "If you had your choice, I think any American would want to captain in the US, but I love Solheim Cups overseas,” added Lewis. I love the passion of the European fans and I love the fact that the US fans who travel are super passionate."

While she’ll be keeping a close eye on potential team members for the next 18 months, Lewis is looking forward to being back in East Lothian this summer playing for herself in the first AIG Women’s Open to be held at Muirfield.

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“Muirfield is going to be unreal,” she said. “For the women to have that opportunity to play at a place where we’ve never been before, it certainly gets me excited. It’s going to open up doors to other venues down the road.

“I’m going to have to do a lot more leaderboard watching than I do normally, but I’m excited about the challenge there and looking forward to it.”

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