In 2009, Catriona Matthew became the first Scot to win the AIG Women’s Open when she captured the title at Royal Lytham and St Annes, just 11 weeks after giving birth to her daughter Sophie. Fast forward to 2020 and Matthew seemingly has not lost a step. The 2019 and 2021 European Solheim Cup captain birdied three of the closing four holes at Royal Troon to finish at even-par 71 and heads to the second round in a tie for fourth.
“Obviously delighted with my round. You know, I played well. I drove the ball well,” said Matthew. “I don't think I missed a fairway today, which gives you just the opportunity to try and hit the greens.”
Matthew is playing in her 26th consecutive AIG Women’s Open, dating to 1995. As a native Scot and one of the most experienced players in this field, she was not fazed by today’s gale-force winds and tomorrow’s storm forecast. She can’t control that, so she can’t focus on it.
“Throughout the years we have had some pretty horrific days, and it's just to go out there, I think, with the mentality that you just need to hang in,” said Matthew. “You might get the odd bad break, you might get a few good ones. But I think just hang in and just try and give yourself putts for par.”
ALENA SHARP MAKES THE MOST OF GETTING UP EARLY
A 6:30 a.m. tee time makes for a painful wake-up call, but Canadian veteran Alena Sharp certainly made the early alarm worth her while. Playing in the first group off at the AIG Women’s Open, Sharp carded an even-par 71 and is tied for fourth after 18 holes at the season’s first major championship.
“I hit my first shot out of bounds and made a double on the first hole and it's not obviously the way I wanted to start the day,” said Sharp. “But it actually woke me up a little bit and started playing some good golf shots after that and made a few putts and just grinded my way.”
Sharp is making her 11th AIG Women’s British Open start, with a best finish of T23 at St Andrews in 2007. She feels an extra kinship to Royal Troon thanks to her Scottish ancestry, perhaps giving her extra luck as she continues her quest for the first title of her 16-year LPGA Tour career.
“I was so ecstatic to see that we were going to get to play Royal Troon and it wasn't going to get canceled. We are lucky we get to play some of these amazing courses,” said Sharp. “I have like ancestry from here. My grandmother was born in Greenock and my uncle was born in Glasgow. I feel like they were watching over me today and giving me a little help out there.”
KATJA POGACAR GETS LATE PLAYING OPPORTUNITY AFTER JESSICA KORDA WITHDRAWS
Rolex Rankings No. 18 Jessica Korda, the fourth-ranked American in the world, withdrew prior to the first round of the AIG Women’s Open. She posted the following statement to her social-media channels: “Unfortunately, due to medical reasons that are not COVID-19 related, I’ve had to withdraw from the AIG Women’s Open. I hope to tee it up soon.”
Slovenia’s Katja Pogacar then got the call that every first alternate hopes to receive – she was in the 2020 AIG Women’s Open field. Teeing off early at 7:36 a.m., Pogacar carded a 4-over 75 on a wind-swept Royal Troon and sits tied for 53rd going into the second round. This is her second AIG Women’s Open appearance, after missing the cut in her debut in 2019 at Woburn Golf Club.
Rolex Rankings No. 55 Amy Olson (67)
- Olson’s 67 was the lowest career round at the AIG Women’s Open; her previous best was a 70 in the second round in 2018
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Olson is in her seventh year on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is second at the 2018 Evian Championship and the 2020 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
- This is Olson’s seventh event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is second at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
- This is Olson’s fourth appearance at the AIG Women’s Open; her best finish is a tie for 28th in 2018
- Olson is a 2013 graduate of North Dakota State University, with a degree in Accounting; she is also a Certified Public Accountant
- While at North Dakota State, she broke the NCAA record for most career victories with 20, a mark previously held by Juli Inkster, and was a First-Team Capital One Academic All-America selection in 2012 and 2013
Rolex Rankings No. 28 Marina Alex (70)
- Alex hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Alex is in her eighth year on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is a win at the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic
- This is Alex’s fifth event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is T4 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
- This is her seventh appearance at the AIG Women’s Open; her best finish is a tie for ninth in 2014
- Alex was a member of the 2019 U.S. Solheim Cup team, with a 1-1-2 overall record
- She was twice named SEC Player of the Year while playing at Vanderbilt University and was selected as a NGCA First-Team All-American (2010 and 2012)
- As a sophomore, she was the individual winner at the 2010 SEC Championship and was runner-up as a senior
- Inducted in the 2015 class of Vanderbilt's Hall of Fame
Rolex Rankings No. 304 Sophia Popov (70)
- She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 32 putts
- Popov has 2020 Symetra Tour Membership; she tied for second at last week’s Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club in Arizona
- This is Popov’s second event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; she tied for ninth at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana
- This is Popov’s second appearance in the AIG Women’s Open; she finished 67th in 2011