A blend of youth and experience feature in Scotland’s Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup team with Catriona Matthew, the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, joining second year Ladies European Tour player Krystle Caithness at La Sella Resort near Dénia in Alicante.
The unique tournament features pairs of players from 18 different countries with two rounds of fourball competition and two rounds of “Valencian Cup”, a novel format based on Greensomes.
As a five-time Solheim Cup player, 40-year-old Matthew, from North Berwick in East Lothian, brings the experience to the team and said: “I am really looking forward to playing in the European Nations Cup. It is always nice to represent your country and play as a team. I love playing in team competition and have always played pretty well.
“Nothing compares to Solheim, which is the ultimate team event, however, I have also loved playing in the World Cup, Lexus Cup and JC Penney Classic over the years and in the Curtis Cup when I was an amateur. I like the fact that you are playing not just for yourself.
“I like the format: it is the same format that the used to play the JC Penney mixed team event in the US.I played with Dan Forsman from the PGA tour for a few years and we always did very well.”
Although less decorated than her playing partner, Caithness also has notable experience of playing for elite teams. She earned the maximum number of points possible from her matches for Great Britain and Ireland at the 2008 Curtis Cup, which she rates as one of her proudest golfing achievements.
The 21-year-old from Cupar in Fife, which is a 10 minute drive from St. Andrews, enjoyed a successful rookie season on the Ladies European Tour in 2009, earning a fifth place finish at the AIB Ladies Irish Open and finishing 41st on the Henderson Money List.
“I’m really looking forward to the European Nations Cup and having the opportunity to play with Catriona,” Caithness said. “I’ve been working on my short game and putting mainly because I want that part of my game to be sharp. I feel I’m in good shape for the tournament and ready to compete.”
With a 19-year age gap and the fact that Matthew mostly competes in the United States, neither player knows each other very well but they have been following each other’s progress.
“I don’t know Krystle very well at all. We met in Dubai at the end of last year. She had a really solid rookie year and won the unofficial pro-am event in Dubai. She is obviously a good player having played in the Curtis Cup as well. Her results last year were pretty consistent. I think that is what you want in team competition: two players who are fairly consistent and always keeping the ball in play is key to doing well,” Matthew said.
Caithness added: “I don’t know Catriona well but she has been a role model over the last few years. I think we have a chance like everyone else.”
Also making the trip to Spain are defending champions Christel Boeljon and Majet van der Graaff of Holland, Australians Karrie Webb and Karen Lunn, Americans Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon and Swedes Sophie Gustafson and Anna Nordqvist, among others. England, which won the inaugural event in 2008 at La Sella, will be represented by Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid, while Tania Elosegui and Emma Cabrera Bello will be flying the flag for the Spanish team.