Scotland’s Catriona Matthew gives her thoughts on playing at Royal Liverpool this week.
We have Catriona Matthew, Champion in 2009 and winner this year of the Irish ladies Open. I’m also right in saying Catriona is one of the very few people this week who has played competitively at Hoylake, namely at the Curtis Cup in 1992. Did you remember much of the course when you arrived here this week?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: A couple thoughts. I didn’t remember a whole lot. I remembered the clubhouse and kind of the area. I thought I would remember a few more holes ‑‑ well it was a different order we played them in, but I remembered probably five or six holes.
Laura Davies was in earlier this morning and said it was very, very tough yesterday in the Pro‑Am; would you agree with that?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, very tough. I mean, the wind, I don’t know how strong it was but there were probably about three or four par 5s I couldn’t reach in two; the par 5, couldn’t with a 3‑wood. Pretty tricky.
She said some were suggesting 8‑over par might win; do you think that’s realistic?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Well, I don’t think the forecast is ‑‑ it’s bad Thursday and Friday but quite nice at the weekend. So depending on the wind, I think they will probably move a few tees up from what we were playing in the Pro‑Am if it’s as windy as it was.
You obviously played very well winning in Ireland; how do you feel coming into the Championship?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously played well in Ireland. Loving going back to Killeen Castle where we played the Solheim Cup; and played pretty well in the States, in Canada and then last week at Kingsmill. Feels like I’m coming into some good form.
What was the talk in the locker room after the 15‑year‑old girl won in Canada that you were actually there?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think everyone, I don’t think you can quite believe how good she is at 15, and just the composure she showed I think on the last day. She actually went away from the field I think on Sunday. Slightly embarrassing to be beaten by a 15‑year‑old. But yeah, obviously fantastic player and got huge potential.
Are you all comparing notes on what you were doing at 15?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Not really, no. I mean, at 15, I had not really taken up golf seriously. I was playing lots of other things and golf was just kind of a summer sport then. To be that good at 15 I find quite unbelievable.
Is that changing the game nowadays, 15‑year‑olds not playing serious golf are probably not going to make it?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think there’s been a change, people come on Tour a lot earlier now, probably 18, 19.
I think the advances in coaching, with video and everything, everyone is coming on with far better golf swings now and I think just the teaching in general, they are coming on ready to win now. Whereas I think when I started, you probably turn pro and then you just took two or three years just to learn the ropes and improve your game a little bit.
Q. To what do you put down your consistency?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I’ve worked hard on my swing probably the last two or three year, just trying to get my ball‑striking a little bit more consistent; if I hit a bad shot, hopefully know why I did it and build to correct it more quickly than I used to be able to do and been working hard on my kind of short game and putting. You’re not going to hit it perfectly every day, so it’s just getting up‑and‑down on the days you’re maybe not hitting it as well and grinding out a decent score.
Q. And how long has your husband been your caddie?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, he’s caddied now for probably 16 years for me. Now my eldest daughter is starting school, he’s probably not going to do it all the time but yeah, it’s worked out well for us. It’s not for everyone, but it’s had its moments, but on the whole it’s worked out pretty well.
Q. Team Great Britain was carried by its women at the Olympics. How will you see that? Will there be a trickle‑down event? Do you see women’s sports in general getting more coverage, attention, focus from here on forward?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I mean, hopefully. I think the Olympics here were just a huge success. Lucky enough, I think I was here for one week and in Ireland for the other week, so was glued to the television watching it. The whole team did really well. I remember watching that Saturday night when I think Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah won. Yeah, hopefully it’s inspired a whole nation to get out and try different sports, and you know, try and get a little more active.
Q. Now the kids are back in school, you talk about Graeme at home, what difference is it going to make from now on?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think we are just going to wait and see what the schedule looks like for next year and then maybe decide. We don’t want to be both of us away for more than two weeks, so we’ll see what the schedule looks like, and if he can come to 60 per cent of them and get a different caddie for the other ones ‑‑ we’ll just play it by ear and see how it works out.
Q. Is he here this week?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: He’s here this week, yeah.
Q. What would you say the key to winning this week will be?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I would say definitely keeping it out of the rough and keeping it out of the bunkers. The rough here is like every course in Britain this summer, is really thick. We have had a lot of rain.
So, yeah, keeping it out of the rough and I think trying to eliminate a double. Because you’re going to hit bad shots, and it’s getting it back into play and trying to give yourself at least a putt for par or a bogey at worst.
Q. Do you think it’s a fair test of golf?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think it is. The golf course is in fantastic shape and the greens are some of the best we have putted on all year. Obviously the wind will make it a huge challenge but that’s links golf. We lucked out last year and didn’t have any wind, the scoring was good. So will be windy this year; the scoring won’t be as good.
Q. What does it do for women’s golf? What does it mean to women’s golf to play a major on this course? Laura called it the toughest links course she thinks she’s ever seen.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, it’s great. I think when they started playing The Open rota courses, I think that was great for women’s golf. And it added for prestige overseas for people watching; when they see us playing the likes of a Hoylake, Birkdale, Turnberry, the ones the men played, it definitely adds to the whole prestige of the event.
Q. Did you stay up and watch Andy Murray the other night?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Unfortunately not. I had been at Kingsmill the week before and I had been watching tennis every night, and I flew back Sunday night and I was so tired, I couldn’t stay up, so that was a shame. Great to see him win though.
Q. Do you feel like you can piggyback on his win and give Great Britain one more thrill in the extended summer?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think Britain have won so many things this summer with the Olympics and then seeing him winning, and McIlroy doing what he’s doing; yeah, it would be fantastic if we could have a British winner this week. Hopefully it could be me. It would just cap off the whole kind of year of sport we have had so far.
Q. Are there any standout holes that are catching your eye?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: All of the holes, really, are a challenge. I think just depending which way the wind blows, I think you’ve really got to try and take advantage of holes ‑‑ well, yesterday, 16 and 18, the par 5s, both played downwind.
So I think you’ve just got to wait and see what it’s like on the day and see which way the wind is blowing, and then take it from there. I don’t know if one hole really stands out too much.
Q. Will you hit the green in two downwind?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, you can get them in two. But like 17, I couldn’t reach the par 4. 16 is a par 4, 17 is a par 5 ‑‑ but when it’s as windy as that, the par of the hole sometimes is irrelevant. You just have got to try to get it on the green in as few shots as you can.
Q. You may have answered this question before, because I came in through halfway, I apologise; at the Olympics, women did indeed put on a fantastic show. What do you think the biggest barrier is to women getting that sort of attention in golf?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think this week, I notice we have got a lot of TV coverage. I think in the end it all comes down to television coverage, the number of hours you can get on television, reaches the most people. This move in September, I think we have really got ‑‑ BBC is showing a good few hours every day which will be great for women’s golf.
Q. You mentioned Rory; what impresses you most just about the year that he’s had?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think just the consistency. I think every week he’s just about up there. And to have within two of the FedEx events and the PGA is just quite amazing; at such a young age, he’s got so much probably pressure and expectation on him now. But yeah, he seems to be coping with it very well.