Catriona Matthew roars into contention at AIG Women's Open

Catriona Matthew

Catriona Matthew drew on all of her experience to post a level-par 71 on a seriously difficult, blustery day at Royal Troon in the opening round of the AIG Women’s Open.

Making her 20th start in the major, the 2009 champion reeled off three birdies in her final four holes to be sit just one shot outside the early clubhouse lead posted by Germany’s Sophia Popov.

Afterwards, the Solheim Cup-winning captain – who will turn 51 on Tuesday – said that she dipped into her memory reserves to help harness the conditions .

“Throughout the years we have had some pretty horrific days, and it's just to go out there, I think, with the mentality that you just need to hang in,” said Matthew. “You might get the odd bad break, you might get a few good ones. But I think just hang in and just try and give yourself putts for par.”

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Despite her fast start, Matthew maintains that just making the cut would be an achievement given her recent form, although a change to her putting grip has given her renewed confidence.

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“It's quite a radical change,” explained the Scot. “The grip I'm using now is kind of the ‘saw’ grip. To be fair, over the years I've tried various different grips, from left-hand low to just changing how I hold it generally but this is quite a radical one. 

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"I've fiddled about with it in practice and things and never taken it to a tournament, but I thought there was nothing to lose this week.”

She added: “In these kind of conditions, you've got to putt well from ten feet and in, and that change in the grip seems to have helped. There’s no reason why I can't go on from here. Obviously there's still a huge way to go, but I just need to keep plugging away.”

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