Matthew rolls back the years in the Troon gales

Scot­tish vet­eran in joint tie for fourth af­ter open­ing round Amer­i­can Ol­son three clear on bru­tal day at fa­mous links

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Cor­ri­gan at Royal Troon

In 2009, So­phie Matthew was 11 weeks old and be­ing looked af­ter by her grand­mother while her own mother made his­tory by win­ning the AIG Women’s Open. Now, So­phie is 11 years old and once more granny is in charge as Su­per­mum at­tempts to amaze the world again.

This is plainly no weather for capes – un­less you want to take off across the Firth of Clyde – but could Ca­tri­ona Matthew pos­si­bly send her su­per­hero sta­tus soar­ing still fur­ther by be­com­ing the old­est ma­jor win­ner of ei­ther gen­der here on this Ayr­shire links on Sun­day?

Yes, these are early days and, as ever, it is easy to be se­duced by the first-round leader­board on which the Scot, who turns 51 next Tues­day, is rid­ing high in a tie for fourth, three be­hind Amer­i­can pace­set­ter, Amy Ol­son. But these are also swirly days and with winds gust­ing to­wards 30mph, ex­pe­ri­ence tends help keep the vet­er­ans teth­ered close to par.

While the gung-ho young­sters are some­times blown off the beaten track, the wise old cam­paign­ers un­der­stand the ne­ces­sity to re­main on the straight and nar­row. And Matthew cer­tainly did that yes­ter­day, with a vin­tage dis­play off the Troon tee-boxes that left a woe­ful run – fea­tur­ing nine missed cuts in her past 11 events – be­hind in the rat­tling wing-mir­ror.

“I don’t know when the last time was that I came off the course feel­leled as happy as I do now. My form hasn’t been great, pretty pa­thetic, in fact,” said Matthew, who is ranked 407th in the world.

“I don’t think I missed a fair­way and peo­ple will ask me how when it’s like this, but I just hap­pened to drive it well. It’s funny, be­cause every­one will say I love these con­di­tions, but if I was at home I don’t know I’d ac­tu­ally go out and play on a day like this. I’d prob­a­bly sit on my sofa and look at them and think, ‘what id­iots, play­ing in this’.

“I’ve played in this event so many times and through­out the years we’ve had some bru­tal days and you have to go out with the men­tal­ity of just hang­ing in there. You’ll get the odd bad break, but you might get a few good ones. I used ev­ery club in my bag to­day and that is rare. That the scor­ing is not go­ing to be su­per­low will suit me and there’s no rea­son why I can’t go on from here.”

Un­like the ma­jor­ity of the 144-woman field, Matthew has been here be­fore. Not just in the pres­surised sit­u­a­tion – al­beit an en­tirely sur­real one as the first fe­male ma­jor of the sea­son takes place be­ing hind closed doors – but Troon it­self. The Open Cham­pi­onship venue has never hosted the AIG Women’s Open be­fore but it does stage the an­nual He­len Holm Tro­phy, one of Bri­tain’s most no­table ama­teur tour­na­ments.

“I won that in 1990 and as it was 30 years ago I don’t re­mem­ber much about it, but I do re­call us hav­ing some hor­rific days,” Matthew said, fol­low­ing her 71. “So, no, this is not my first time and the way I saw it to­day was that the forecast was say­ing we’d get 40mph winds so we lucked out.”

Of course, oth­ers dis­agreed. There were 14 scores in the 80s and as these in­cluded qual­ity Solheim Cup play­ers, such as Eng­land’s Bronte Law, France’s Ce­line Boutier and a few from the op­pos­ing side in An­nie Park and Ge­rina Piller and with the likes of world No7 Brooke Hen­der­son shoot­ing a 77, world No10 Lexi Thomp­son fir­ing a 78, it was clearly treach­er­ous.

How­ever, as Matthew sig­ni­fied, it sim­ple to get psyched out by the sever­ity of the chal­lenge and, de­spite the av­er­age score hov­er­ing some­where near 76, Ol­son proved that it was fea­si­ble to go low with a bril­liant 67, in which she bo­geyed the third and then played the re­main­ing 15 holes in five un­der.

Iron will: Ca­tri­ona Matthew in ac­tion on the 18th on her way to an even-par 71

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.