Catriona Matthew: Solheim Cup switch is possible

European captain sees delay until 2022 if Ryder Cup is cancelled later this year
Catriona Matthew led Europe to Solheim Cup success last year in a non-playing role, and was quickly re=electedCatriona Matthew led Europe to Solheim Cup success last year in a non-playing role, and was quickly re=elected
Catriona Matthew led Europe to Solheim Cup success last year in a non-playing role, and was quickly re=elected

Everything is up in the air. Numerous events have either been postponed or cancelled, including majors. As things stand, no-one knows what will be left of the 2020 golf season at the other end of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some tournaments have already been pushed back to 2021, including the Curtis Cup, which means it will be taking place in the same year as the Walker Cup. If the Ryder Cup ends up being shoved back as well, it will also be due to be played in the same year as the Solheim Cup.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That has happened once before – in 2002 due to the 2001 Ryder Cup being moved because of 9/11. The Solheim Cup has grown in stature since then, though, and European captain Catriona Matthew reckons doubling up is no longer the right thing to do.

“I don’t make the decisions, but it would not surprise me that, if the Ryder Cup moved, they would look at moving the Solheim to the next year,” said Matthew. “They were played in the same year in 2002 and then switched to opposite years, but the Solheim is now a bigger event.

“It (moving next year’s Solheim Cup, which is due to be played at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, September) is certainly something that I think would be spoken about rather than have them both in the same year.”

After leading Europe to a dramatic victory at Gleneagles last year, Matthew was quickly re-appointed and said she would have “no problem” having to wait an extra 12 months to try and pull off a trophy defence on US soil.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The qualification process would be easier for the players again as they would have this year as a void and start again from next year,” she added. “This is certainly a tricky year and the main focus is just trying to get things back to normal for the whole world, really.”

Augusta National and the PGA of America have already postponed The Masters and US PGA Championship respectively in the hope they can be played later in the year. The USGA and R&A have still to make decisions about the

US Open and The Open Championship, with the likelihood both will also be postponed in the first instance.

In the women’s game, one of the majors, the ANA Inspiration, which had been scheduled to take place this week in California, has been given a new September slot. “God, it’s a tricky one,” admitted Matthew, an Aberdeen Standard Investments ambassador, in reply to being asked if it will be possible to cram as many majors as possible into what might be left of the season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Probably, yes, you’d want the majors played. But, then, do you want them played four weeks in a row? Obviously it depends where they’re being played, as well, when it comes to if you can even play them later in the year.

“I think if you just get one or two majors in, maybe that’s enough – I don’t know. A lot can depend on where they are in the country they’re being played in – and obviously just getting all the players in.

“The majors have huge fields, players from all over the world, so that’s another issue. There’s obviously a lot to think about and, I’m glad I don’t have to make all these decisions. Personally, I would be amazed if all the majors are played this year.”

Padraig Harrington, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, has suggested qualifying for this year’s event should be abandoned if the season gets up and running again in time for the match to take place as scheduled on 25-27 September. Instead, he would pick 12 players and so would US captain Steve Stricker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s difficult as the qualification has started. Whether they play the Ryder Cup this year or next year, there is probably going to have to be some changes made to the qualification,” observed Matthew.

“But everything is happening so quickly and I suppose Padraig and those organising the event have to look at

different scenarios as see

what happens with how the virus develops and go from there.”

Lockdown in North Berwick for Matthew so far has involved some walking, gardening and baking. She also enjoyed watching a re-run on Sky Sports of that Solheim Cup success in Perthshire, where wildcard Suzann Pettersen clinched victory with the final putt of the match.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I watched a little bit and we were texting back and forward to different players,” she said. “It just seems so long ago now. I can’t believe it was just a few months ago, it feels a lot longer. I was still nervous watching Suzann’s putt on the replay.”