Catriona Matthew may have exuded calmness as she ambled to a comprehensive victory in the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links yesterday, but even as she assembled a massive advantage over her rivals there were still some niggling doubts at the back of her mind.
“I got to the turn and was eight shots ahead and it’s strange because it puts a bit of pressure on because you think ‘God, what would happen if I blew this’,” confessed the 41-year-old.
There’s nothing like a bit of Scottish sporting optimism but, as it turned out, Matthew had no cause for concern. The former Women’s British Open champion closed with a six-under-par 66 for a 15-under aggregate of 201 and eventually coasted to a 10-stroke triumph over a distant Hannah Jun as she racked up the biggest winning margin of her 16-year professional career.
It was Matthew’s eighth title in the paid ranks and earned her a tidy cheque for £29,000. There was also the satisfaction gained from a victory at the course where she is an honorary member.
With a decent support – including mum and dad – pitching up in the pleasant conditions to carry the local favourite home, this turned out to be a very popular procession in East Lothian.
“Given that I’m playing at home and I’m a member here, it made the win very special,” added Matthew, whose last victory on home soil came in the McDonald’s WPGA Championship at Gleneagles in 1998. “I recognised plenty of faces. I don’t often get the chance to play so close to home and I’m delighted to have won here by such a big margin.”
Having trailed Jun by four strokes after Thursday’s opening round, Matthew, who was travelling to Canada today to resume her LPGA Tour duties, swiftly stamped her authority on the pro-am contest and fashioned a four-shot lead of her own with a sparkling course-record 65 during round two.
By the time she had covered nine holes on the closing day, the Solheim Cup player had demonstrated that she was simply head and shoulders above the rest with a commanding and composed performance. Birdies at the second and third inched her further away from the pack and, despite a spilled shot on the fourth, the three-times Scottish Women’s Amateur champion produced a telling thrust and reeled off a quartet of birdies at five, six, seven and eight in an outward half of 31 which saw her disappear over the horizon.
Matthew eased her foot off the pedal with a steady stream of pars on the inward half, but finished with a flourish and rolled in a 15-footer for a birdie four on the 18th to set the seal on a dominant display.
Jun had no to answer to Matthew’s early birdie barrage but, having stumbled with a couple of bogeys, the 26-year-old Californian made gains at 15 and 18 to salvage a level-par card of 72 and claim second place on her own with a five-under 211.
France’s Caroline Alfonso took third on 212 while Glasgow’s Kylie Walker chalked up the best finish of her blossoming professional career with a share of fifth on 214.
The 26-year-old, who signed off with a three-under 69, had two eighth-place results during an impressive rookie season in 2010 and yesterday’s effort was further proof that the former Scottish amateur No 1 is settling into life on the Ladies European Tour.
“I had some rookie nerves last year, but I feel I am making big steps forward,” said Walker, who picked up £6350.
Mhairi McKay closed with a 70 to share ninth on 215, while Vikki Laing (217) and Carly Booth (218) both managed to squeeze into the leading 20.