We can be queens of the Castle – Cat

Making her sixth appearance as a Solheim Cup player, North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew brings a wealth of experience to Killeen Castle in Ireland this week, and she is confident the European team can rise to the occasion and end America’s run of victories.

The USA have won eight of the 11 contests to date and Europe have not won since the 2003 event in Barseback, Sweden, when Matthew claimed the winning point with a singles victory over Rosie Jones, who this week captains the visiting side.

“I think we have a great team and although there are five rookies, they are all winners and all playing well,” said the Scot. “The Americans are favourites on paper, but I think it will be really close.”

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Matthew is bound to be a key player for European captain Alison Nicholas. The world No. 32 has a great record with 12 points from her five appearances and she in the middle of a great season.

Last month, she won the Aberdeen Ladies’ Scottish Open at Archerfield, and that followed a top-five at the Women’s British Open and a top-six at the AIB Irish Ladies’ Open, which was held at Killeen Castle.

“But the course is playing much different than even those few weeks ago,” said Matthew. “It’s much longer and much greener.”

Bad weather is thought to favour the home side – and if yesterday’s practice session was anything to go by, then Europe are already a few holes to the good. The wind was howling and the heavens opened in the afternoon, sending torrents of water on to the course. The conditions brought back memories of two recent Ryder Cups, the K Club in 2006 and last year at Celtic Manor.

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By the time the rain came down, the East Lothian 42-year-old had completed nine holes of practice in the company of Swedish rookie Caroline Hedwall. Her coach, Kevin Craggs, was also on hand to offer some last minute checks and confidence.

“Kevin is here all week and it’s great to have him around,” said Matthew. “I always love the Solheim and I think I almost enjoy it more each time.”