Solheim Cup: Catriona Matthew hopes Europe can overcome 'zero' fans
Catriona Matthew is hoping the absence of European fans at this week’s Solheim Cup in Ohio can lift her players rather than work against them as they bid to land only a second success in the biennial event on US soil.
Due to ongoing Covid travel restrictions, Europe will have very few spectators cheering them on at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, where the three-day contest starts on Saturday, as they defend the trophy won in dramatic fashion at Gleneagles in 2019.
“I've seen the odd European flag,” reported Matthew as she joined her assistant captains, Kathryn Imrie, Laura Davies and Suzann Pettersen, at a press conference on the first official practice day for the match against an American side being led for the first time by Pat Hurst.
Europe’s sole success so far in the event on US soil came in 2008 in Colorado, where Matthew clinched the win as she halved her singles match with Gerina Piller.
That eventually ended up 18-10 in favour of the visitors, but the Americans won equally convincingly in Des Moines in 2017, when Matthew made her ninth playing appearance.
“I think the fact we have only won once shows how difficult it is to win away from home,” said the North Berwick woman of this week’s assignment.
“Obviously this year it is going to be more difficult and be more of a challenge for us, but I think in a way we can rise to that.
“Rather than thinking we're going to have a few fans, we're kind of really expecting basically about zero fans.
"Obviously a few Europeans who perhaps are living in the States can make it here, but it certainly won't be the same presence that we normally have at an away match.
“But I think the players are going to be mentally prepared, so I think it just gives them another challenge and another thing to try and overcome and get that victory.”
Pettersen, Europe’s match-winner at Gleneagles after being a bold captain’s pick, is happy to be assisting the Scot on this occasion after playing “zero” golf since the arrival of a second child.
“It's a little bit weird walking by the driving range and not having to pull out your clubs, but I'm actually really enjoying it,” said the Norwegian.