Scot handed vice-captain role for next year’s match by Sorenstam... only a matter of time before she takes full control
By SCG Newsdesk
The odds have dropped massively on Catriona Matthew captaining the European Solheim Cup team at Gleneagles in 2019 after she was announced as a vice-captain for next year’s contest.
Annika Sorenstam, the current Solheim Cup captain, named Matthew as the first member of her 2017 backroom team for the match at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.
The Scot is being tipped in many quarters to lead the European charge at Gleneagles. This, however, will be her first experience as a vice-captain, despite having played for Europe in eight Solheim Cups.
“I’m really delighted to be vice-captain to Annika,” said Matthew, who has earned 19 points from 33 matches in the contest.
“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.”
She and Sorenstam 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 ten 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, in August 2017.
On the chances of that happening, however, she was slightly hesitant. “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.”
The Scot added: “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.”
Sorenstam described Matthew as “long-time friend” and said she had chosen the Scot because was a “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,” said Sorenstam. “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.”
The 2019 contest sees the match return to Scotland for the first time since 2000, when it was held at Loch Lomond. It had been held at Dalmahoy previously, back in 1993. Europe won on both occasions in Scotland.
Meanwhile, it has been agreed that global sports, media and events organisation IMG will stage the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, ensuring the country hosts a ‘world-class spectacle and delivers on its key principles of equality, experience and innovation’.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This partnership brings together two of the world-leading brands within the global golf industry and will allow Scotland to realise the many benefits of hosting one of the most prestigious sporting events on the planet.
“IMG’s vast experience in staging major events will ensure that Scotland stages the best-ever Solheim Cup when it visits Gleneagles in 2019 and delivers a spectator experience that is second to none.
“They share our vision of an open and inclusive event and will work alongside us to show that in Scotland golf is a family-orientated game that is open to everyone. We want to use The 2019 Solheim Cup to encourage greater participation among women, young people and families and IMG’s strong track record in the women’s game will help us to achieve this.”