Catriona Matthew appeared as relaxed as ever as she posed for family photographs on the beach near her North Berwick home on the eve of her title defence at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland, starting on Thursday.
Matthew, who grew up playing golf on Scotland’s east coast, will once again have the luxury of sleeping in her own bed as she goes in pursuit of a second successive national title on the Fidra Course at Archerfield Links in East Lothian.
She and husband Graeme, who is also her caddie, will be able to spend time with daughters Katie and Sophie when they are not walking the fairways and can expect a warm welcome as they compete just three miles along the coast from home.
The 42-year-old Solheim Cup star is returning to the scene of her 10-stroke win over American Hannah Jun last August and although she feels that this year’s tournament field is stronger, is clearly unperturbed.
“It’s a better field this year with Laura (Davies), Lindsey (Wright), Pernilla Lindberg and then the other Europeans, Mel (Reid) and Gwladys (Nocera), so it’s a strong field and if I can play well again I should be in with a chance,” Matthew said.
“Having won once, I don’t think I’m under any extra pressure. Obviously there are a few bigger names this year. Last year, I played really well and it was one of those weeks where if something went wrong I managed to escape from it and it just went my way with the putts. I don’t think I’ll win by 10 shots again: I think those weeks are the exception so we’ll wait and see what happens. Although I quite enjoyed that! It makes it a lot more relaxing when you’ve got a nine shot lead going into the back nine!”
Matthew recently recorded two top-15 finishes at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Kia Classic in America and has been in a rich vein of form since her first major victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2009.
“I had a good last few years. I obviously had a good Solheim Cup and won this event and won in Mexico at the end of last year as well. I’m getting older but my golf seems to be getting better.
“I’ve been doing a lot of short game this winter. I feel my swing, I made a lot of changes to it over the last couple of years with (my coach) Kevin and now it’s a case of maintenance. I always go back into the same habits so it’s the little things I’m working on checking and doing the right thing. I’ve tried to work this winter on pitching and 100 yards in. I feel that’s where I can pick up most shots.”
With the event being played in a unique 54-hole format, professional golfers will once again compete alongside an amateur field, increased this year to 70, which will include a number of celebrities.
Matthew starts the first round at 8.30am and is playing in the Pro Am Team competition with Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Executive Martin Gilbert, alongside Italian professional Diana Luna and her amateur partner.
Meanwhile, other notable pairings in the Pro Am team competition include Laura Davies and former England cricketer Darren Gough at 11.15am, in the same group as Sweden’s Carin Koch and Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole.
Entry to watch this event is free and public car parking is available.