There was so much on the line when Matilda Castren teed it up last week in her home country of Finland at the LET’s Gant Ladies Open. Not only was she trying to win in front of a partisan home crowd, but with a win she would earn LET Membership and become eligible to represent Europe at the Solheim Cup.
“It was a little bit stressful,” Castren said with a laugh. “I definitely felt the pressure because I know the crowds wanted a Finnish winner and everyone who worked for the federation and all that, they were hoping for a Finnish winner.”
Despite the stress, Castren cruised to a three-stroke victory, becoming the tournament’s fourth Finnish winner and first since 2017, and is now officially a member of the LET. With four events in which to earn that elusive card, the 26-year-old made that stress quickly vanish, taking the victory in her first event of the European swing. If she earns a berth on Team Europe, she would become the first Finn to play on the team. And she could share the spotlight with countrywoman Sanna Nuutinen, who is currently second in the LET Solheim Cup standings.
“It would be a huge honor to represent my home country and also Europe. It's a tournament that I been following and watching since I was a little girl and I always wanted to be a part of it,” said Castren. “I loved the team events we play in Europe growing up, and Solheim Cup is just like the biggest one for us women. Yeah, it would mean everything to be a part of the team.”
Castren burst on the international golf scene with a victory at the 2021 LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship and earned her first ticket to the picturesque Amundi Evian Championship. Anyone who sets foot on the grounds for the first time can’t help but be awed by the scenic views of Lake Geneva and the distant Alps, including Castren. It’s an instant stress reliever.
“It's gorgeous. I knew it was going to be beautiful, but this is beyond my expectations. The course is spectacular. It's in such good shape. I know there was some rain the past couple weeks but I think it just made the course a lot better,” she said. “It's just so green and you can see the lake from almost every hole. It's just gorgeous. Yeah, I feel very lucky to be here and be a part of this event. Yeah, I'm excited.”