Catriona Matthew MBE has been named by Annika Sörenstam as a vice-captain for The 2017 European Solheim Cup Team at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.
The announcement was made at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open Leadership Forum on Thursday at The Gailes Hotel on the eve of the championship taking place at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire.
Matthew is the first European vice-captain to be named for the 2017 team and said: “I’m really delighted to be vice-captain to Annika. It’s a great honour as she’s probably the best woman golfer there’s ever been and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Matthew has played for Europe in eight Solheim Cups, earning 19 points from 33 matches. She and Annika competed on four European teams together, in 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and formed a successful partnership winning a combined total of two foursomes and one four-ball match together.
The 46-year-old from North Berwick, who counts the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open among her 10 international career titles, could potentially make her ninth Solheim Cup appearance as a playing vice-captain when the next contest is staged in the United States, on August 14-20, 2017. She is in a rich vein of form and next month will represent Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, along with Charley Hull, her 2013 four-ball partner.
Matthew, who famously holed the winning putt in The 2003 Solheim Cup at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club in Sweden and secured the half point to win the Cup outright for Europe at Colorado Golf Club in 2013, continued: “It’s a long way off still but it’s a possibility. I’ll see how I’m playing next year and go from there.
“I love The Solheim Cup and it’s my favourite week each time it comes round every two years. It’s just so different for a golfer to be in a team environment where you’ve got your teammates and the captains and vice-captains. Golf is such an individual sport that it just makes it great fun. I’ve got great memories from it.”
Annika commented: "Catriona is a long-time friend and well-respected veteran of the game. As a major winner who has competed in numerous Solheim Cups, I'm very excited to welcome her to our team. She will be a tremendous asset, thanks not only to her experience playing the biggest events, but also because she is currently active on both the LPGA and the LET."
Ladies European Tour CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh said: “We are delighted that Annika has named Catriona Matthew as a vice-captain as her enormous Solheim Cup experience will add tremendously to the European team. With Annika and Catriona working together for a common cause, we are confident that Europe can achieve a second away victory when the competition is played next year in Iowa.”
Commenting on the decision at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open Leadership Forum, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Having played in the Solheim Cup eight times, it is wonderful that a Scot - Catriona Matthew - will be Vice Captain at the 2017 event when it takes place at Des Moines in Iowa next August. I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in Scotland and wish her and the team the best of luck.”
The 2017 Solheim Cup will be the 15th staging of the biennial, transatlantic team match play tournament, which features the best 12 European players from the Ladies European Tour and the best 12 players from the United States on the LPGA. The United States team leads the series 9-5, having won by a score of 14 ½ - 13 ½ at The 2015 Solheim Cup at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany, while in 2013 at Colorado Golf Club, the Europeans achieved an historic first away win by a record 18-10 margin.
For the 16th match, The 2019 Solheim Cup will be returning to Scotland, the Home of Golf and the scene of Europe’s first two victories, at Dalmahoy in 1993 and at Loch Lomond in 2000 respectively. The 2019 event will be played at the world famous PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Host Venue for the successful 2014 Ryder Cup and the 2018 European Championships.
– but the sailors praise the new boats