Solheim Cup 2021: Many people thought Catriona Matthew’s dramatic triumph on home soil in 2019 was the perfect capstone to her lengthy and successful Solheim Cup career. Instead, she enriched her legacy by contributing to the history of golf.
After making her debut in 1998, Matthew had only missed one event as a player for Team Europe, switching last-minute from vice-captain to player ahead of the 2017 competition, before taking over skipper duties for the amazing 14.5-13.5 victory at Gleneagles.
With Matthew initially undecided about returning to the job for a future edition of the biennial event, Europe avoided a third consecutive defeat thanks to Suzann Pettersen’s tight victory on the last hole in the last singles match.
Matthew eventually agreed to captain Europe at the Inverness Club in Ohio, despite the fact that they had only won one prior match on American territory and no European captain had ever won back-to-back Solheim Cups.
“I remember thinking to my husband that night [after the 2019 win], ‘I don’t sure I’ll do it again if they ask me,'” Matthew told Sky Sports. “It had never been done before in Europe, and no one had ever won back-to-back, so I figured why not?
“It was a totally different task for me because it was an away game. When it’s away, there’s a little less time commitment because you’re not doing as much promotion or media, so you can focus more on the squad.
“With Covid-19 [in 2021], things were a little different, but it was a tremendous task to take on.”
Because to Covid-19, the Ladies European Tour’s playing possibilities were limited, and qualification was adjusted to allow Matthew to select six captain’s picks, but most European fans were unable to travel to the United States due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Because the hosts had eight of the world’s top 30 players at their disposal, including world No. 1 Nelly Korda, compared to the visitors’ two, Europe headed to America as underdogs, only for Matthew to squash home aspirations with a 15-13 win over Pat Hurst’s side.
Leona Maguire etched her name in Solheim Cup history with a 4.5-point performance in an unblemished debut, with Matilda Castren and Emily Pedersen each earning three points, and captain’s pick Mel Reid joining Anna Nordqvist in getting 2.5 points during Europe’s victory.
Matthew ruled herself out of a third consecutive captaincy, allowing Pettersen to take over for the 2023 competition in Spain, with the Scot proud of her accomplishments for Team Europe.
“Winning back-to-back Solheim Cups is without a doubt the highlight of my career,” Matthew added. “After my first game in 1998, all I wanted to do every two years was making the team.”
“It’s been a significant part of my career for the past 25 years, and to have the privilege and honour of winning twice was something I could never have imagined when I first started playing in 1998.”
“I see both wins [2019 and 2021] as being quite evenly distributed. Gleneagles, being in Scotland, was unique in terms of the atmosphere created by the fans and everything else.
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