Catriona Matthew has done it all in the Solheim Cup – except captain a winning team on American soil. As she prepares to lead Europe out at Inverness Club, she talks NCG through her highs and lows in the competition to date
The first Solheim Cup I played in I actually had the honour of losing the point that let the Americans win. It’s terrible because you feel like you’ve let everyone down, your team-mates, the captains, and all the people there wanting you to win – and you feel like you’ve let them down.
Even in a team event, when you’re actually the one who loses the point, it makes it feel a lot worse.
My second Solheim Cup – at Barseback in 2003 – was my highlight. It was the first winning team I’d been on, the crowds in Sweden were massive, and I was lucky enough to get the winning point.
I beat Rosie Jones on the 17th and I remember that hole so well – I’ve actually got picture of that in my house. It’s a special memory.
Did I think I’d ever be captain one day? The first two or three I played, that was a long way from my mind.
I was not even contemplating or thinking about that but as the years went by and I played in more it did come into the back of my mind that perhaps one day I would want to be captain. Now obviously I’ve been lucky enough to be given that opportunity.
I was really looking forward to my role as vice-captain in 2017. I didn’t make the team and by then I was thinking I might like to be captain someday. So I was looking forward to finding out about all that goes on behind the scenes.
Then Annika Sorenstam phoned me on the Sunday before to say Suzann Pettersen was injured and I knew my name was in the envelope as the replacement.
I still went there not really thinking I’d be playing, but by Wednesday evening Suzann decided she couldn’t do it, so that’s when I jumped in.
That’s where the experience helped. Having played in so many, I knew what to expect. I think that would have been a tough situation for a rookie.
You pick up things from different captains. Every captain does it their own way, but you pick up little things.
But also I’ve been a pick, I’ve not made it, and I’ve made it on merit, so you think about how that all happened. Subconsciously I’ve picked up so many things over the years.
Alison Nicholas was very good. She did it differently, she was very quiet. Alison was captain when I was at my peak so I was quite involved in everything.
I also spoke to Paul McGinley, with him being the Ryder Cup captain at Gleneagles, and got some great insight from him. I spoke to Thomas Bjorn, and Annika, of course. But at the end of the day, you’ve still got to do it your way.
It’s different because, as a captain, once they’re out on the golf course there’s really nothing you can do. You’ve just got to watch and, having played for so many years, I haven’t been a golf watcher at tournaments.
That was quite different for me. I wouldn’t say I’ve not been emotional – perhaps I don’t show it as much as others – but I was certainly very emotional on the inside.
Ultimately the Solheim Cup will be won by the team that putts the best. It’s about holing that crucial putt at the right time.
You’ve got to get some good pairings, you’ve got to get that chemistry between the players. You’ve got to talk to players and know what they want in a partner, whether they want someone with a similar game or a similar personality.
But the team needs to putt well.
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Catriona Matthew: Solheim Cup record
Appearances: 9 (1998, 2003, ’05, ’07, ‘09, ‘11, ‘13, ‘15, ‘17)
Win percentage: 60
All formats (W-L-H): 18-11-8
Fourballs: 4-4-3 (5½ points)
Foursomes: 8-5-4 (10 points)
Singles: 6-2-1 (6½ points)