Catriona Matthew says it’s a ‘dream come true’ after being named European captain for the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.
Always a heavy favourite to land the role once it was announced that the biennial match would be heading to Scotland, Matthew recently competed in her ninth and final Solheim Cup as a player after coming into Annika Sorenstam’s team as a late replacement for Suzann Pettersen.
The Scot proved to be one of the stars of the team, earning three points for Europe from her four matches, but afterwards called time on her Solheim Cup playing career, saying: “I think it’s time for some younger players to take over.”
Now Matthew is looking forward to her next challenge: leading Europe to its sixth victory over the USA.
“It’s a great honour and a dream come true to be the captain at home in Scotland,” said Matthew,” who with 22 points is third on the all-time Solheim Cup list after Laura Davies (25) and Annika Sorenstam (24).
“Since my first appearance in 1998, I have always loved playing in the Solheim Cup. It’s always such an incredible atmosphere and over the years that I’ve played, I’ve enjoyed it more and more.
“From the extremely high standard of play, to the enormous crowds, huge infrastructure and fantastic media coverage, the event just keeps getting bigger and better.
“Scotland will provide the perfect stage for the 2019 Solheim Cup and Gleneagles will be a terrific venue. I was lucky enough to win there in 1998 and there is nothing better than winning in your home country.”
Outgoing captain, Annika Sörenstam, who was also Matthew’s first Solheim Cup partner at Muirfield Village in 1998, said: “Catriona has had a wonderful Solheim Cup career and deserves the opportunity to take on this prestigious role. She is very well respected by the players, so she is a natural choice.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute to Matthew in being a role model to countless numbers of junior golfers in the home of golf.
“Catriona is without doubt one of Scotland’s most successful sporting icons and I am delighted that she has been given the honour of captaining the European side in her home country,” she said.
“I have no doubt that Catriona will prove to be an inspiration as captain as she has done throughout her playing career and serve as a role model for thousands of junior golfers, not just in Scotland but across the globe.
“I’m confident the people of Scotland will get fully behind Catriona’s captaincy and line the fairways of Gleneagles in support of the European team come September 2019.”
Ping chairman & CEO John Solheim added: “As a nine-time participant in the Solheim Cup with an incredible record of 18-11-8, Catriona brings tremendous experience to a team that is determined to reclaim the event on home soil.
“I’ve long admired Catriona’s calm, quiet and thoughtful approach to the game which will serve her very well as she prepares and motivates her team to reach its goal of winning The Solheim Cup.”
In 2013, Matthew was a member of the first European team to win in the United States and secured the half point to win the Cup outright at Colorado Golf Club. She becomes the tenth European captain in Solheim Cup history.
“As soon it was announced that the Solheim Cup was to go to Gleneagles in 2019, Catriona Matthew was the hot favourite to be the European captain. She was the obvious candidate for the job – but, more importantly, the right one. In addition to her considerable experience, expect Matthew to bring a steady influence and real grit to the role. Don’t let her easy, calm demeanour fool you – she is a hardened competitor at heart. How fitting it would be if she was to sign off her Solheim Cup career with a victory on home soil.”
Michael McEwan • Digital Editor