WOBURN – It was three o’clock in the morning and Catriona Matthew was awake. It wasn’t the celebration of her Women’s British Open victory that kept her up into the pre-dawn hours but her daughter, Sophie, who was just 11 weeks old. Catriona fed her newborn while sipping a cup of tea. Her mother, who had been handling the night feeds while Catriona competed in the major championship, awoke at the regular feeding time and sat with her daughter. The trophy also sat nearby as the three generations enjoyed a quiet celebration together.
Ten years later, that’s the moment Catriona remembers most when looking back on her major victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes. It was a remarkable feat. Catriona won, and not just any tournament but a major championship, in just her second start since giving birth. The victory earned Catriona the title ‘supermum’ in papers across the United Kingdom.
“I probably at the time didn't really probably appreciate what a big deal it was, only 11 weeks after having Sophie, but now looking back, I suppose you can realize what an amazing feat it really was actually,” Catriona said about her victory.
Perhaps an even bigger accomplishment has been her ability to continue competing, traveling and winning on Tour while raising two daughters, Katie, age 12 and Sophie, age 10. Graeme, Catriona’s husband, caddies for his wife and provided an extra set of hands when the girls were young. As they’ve grown older, Graeme remains home with their daughters while Catriona is competing on Tour.
“I think I was fortunate at the time my husband caddied for me as well, so we all traveled together,” Catriona said. “Obviously, we just had Katie, the one at the time, we thought ‘god this is really tough.’ But when the second one came along, we realized it was quite easy with one.”
Traveling as a young family worked for Catriona but she also recognizes that it’s not the solution for every family. With nearly a dozen babies born to players on Tour over the last year, Catriona believes each family has to figure out what works best for them.
“You have to find what sort of routine suits you, suits your family, and how many weeks to be away, how many weeks to be at home, whether to bring the baby with you,” Catriona said. “It’s all just a learning curve.”
Time management became the key to Catriona’s success. She learned to make the most of limited practice time and relished having early rather than late tee times.
“I always find the late tee time, late-early was always a struggle because you had to, not that it was a chore, but you had to kind of entertain them all morning,” Catriona said about watching her daughters before heading to work. “By the time you dropped them at day care, you were kind of exhausted and then you had to pick them up, feed them, get them ready for the next day and drop them early.”
The Smucker’s LPGA Child Development Center has been an invaluable resource for not only Matthew, but also the growing number of mothers on Tour. The center provides free child care for Tour members and staff at stops on Tour.
In September, Catriona will take on another role as Captain of the European Team at the Solheim Cup. It’s being staged at Gleneagles in her home country of Scotland, where she’s hoping to bring the trophy back to Europe for the first time since 2013. She’ll square off with another mom on Tour – Juli Inkster, the captain of Team USA who has two daughters of her own. Juli and Catriona are two players often looked to as role models in how to find success as a mom on Tour. Catriona has won four times worldwide since Sophie’s birth.
“I think it's beginning to show there's no reason why you can't come back,” Catriona said about the growing popularity of new mothers returning to the Tour. “I mean, you do have less time to practice, but I think what you get having children outweighs maybe losing a few hours on the practice range.”