European captain Catriona Matthew has backed calls for the Solheim Cup to retain its place on the 2021 golf schedule, irrespective of what happens to this year’s Ryder Cup.
The next edition of women’s golf’s biennial match between Europe and the USA is scheduled to take place at Inverness Golf Club in Ohio from September 4-6, 2021.
However, there have been some suggestions that it could be postponed by 12 months to accommodate the Ryder Cup in the event that it, too, has to be delayed by a year. Currently, the Ryder Cup is scheduled to take place this year from September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Rumours have been steadily intensifying in recent weeks that it will have to be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier this week, the commissioner of the LPGA, Mike Whan, refuted any notion of the Solheim Cup making way for the Ryder Cup saying that “nothing drowns out a Solheim Cup”.
Matthew, who will lead the European team again following the epic victory at Gleneagles last autumn, agrees.
“The last time the Ryder Cup was postponed was following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and, in turn, the Solheim Cup was pushed back a year, too,” she told bunkered.co.uk. “However, I think things are much different now. In the last two decades, the profile of the Solheim Cup has grown tremendously, so I don’t think there would be any real need to move it.
“Right now, nobody really knows what’s going to happen. It’s not clear when we’re going to start playing again, the world rankings have been frozen and qualification for next year’s Solheim might need to be tweaked a little, so there are a lot of things that we don’t know and won’t know until things start to settle down. But, in terms of keeping the date, I agree with Mike.”
The Scot added that it might even be good for golf to have the biggest team events in both the men’s and women’s realms of the sport taking place closer together.
“Assuming we still go ahead with the Solheim as planned and the Ryder Cup ends up being moved back by exactly 12 months, then the two matches would only be two or three weeks apart,” said Matthew. “I think that could be great. It could really spike interest.”
With professional golf having been on a near-global lockdown since the middle of March and recreational golf in the UK having been similarly adjourned for the last month, Matthew is currently in the midst of the longest break she has had from the game since giving birth to the second of her two daughters in May 2009.
“At least with pregnancy you know roughly when you’re going to get back to playing and you can kind of plan for that,” she said. “With this, though, you can’t really do that. There’s just so much uncertainty.”
So far, six Ladies European Tour events have been either postponed or cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The earliest that the tour can now resume is June 18 with the opening round of the Jabra Ladies’ Open in France. There are, however, no guarantees that it will take place.
Matthew added: “It’s a real shame the impact that all of this has had. The LET looked like it was preparing to turn a corner this year, with a new chief executive in charge and a joint venture with the LPGA helping to bring some exciting new tournaments onto the schedule. Hopefully, some of the events that have been impacted can be rescheduled for later in the year if things return to some kind of normality but, really, who knows what’s going to happen?”
Until such times as golf returns, Matthew revealed that she has had plenty to fill her days at home in North Berwick.
“The weather’s been great so we’ve been doing a lot of gardening,” she said. “We’ve built a vegetable patch and have been trying to get the grass looking a bit better. We’ve been doing a lot of cooking as a family, too. Just keeping busy, really.”
That’s to say nothing of having to home-school daughters Katie and Sophie.
“It’s been going not too bad actually,” she laughed. “Fortunately, they’re only S1 and P6, so it’s nothing too taxing. I’m pretty good with maths and science and [husband] Graeme is good with English and languages so, between us, we’ve got most bases covered.”