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'I know there is another major in me'

Should Catriona Matthew need any inspiration ahead of this summer's Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale then the celebrated Scot needs only to peer northwards across the Ribble Estuary to Lytham St Anne's shimmering in the distance.

Catriona Matthew with the Ricoh Women's British Open trophy after her triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2009. Picture: Wojciech Migda

As long as it's not hosing it down, of course.

It is five years now since Matthew claimed the biggest title of her career on the Lancashire coast when she won the British Women's showpiece over those rigorous links of Royal Lytham. This July, the 44-year-old will be a few miles down the coast in Southport aiming to add another major crown to her pile of honours.

Royal Birkdale has not been the happiest of hunting grounds, mind you. As the holder of the Women's Open in 2010, her title defence ended prematurely as she missed the cut after an 81 in round two. This is yet another new season, though, and the decorated Solheim Cup stalwart is relishing another crack at the ultimate glory in this, her 20th year on the LPGA Tour. She has seen and done it before, so there's no reason why she can't do it again.

"I maybe haven't done overly well at Birkdale but that's not because I don't like the course, and maybe this year I can change that," said Matthew. "When you win a major, it is always something you know you've done so you do reflect on it now and again. It helps relax you going into other majors as you know you've won one before. There is another major in me. It all comes to how you putt and, if I get a hot week with the putter, I definitely feel as though I can contend."

Despite her advancing years, the evergreen Matthew, Scotland's highest ranked golfer on the world stage at No.15, remains one of the main contenders. She was in the thick of it again during the opening major of the campaign, the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this month, only to fall away with a closing 76 and eventually share 11th.That final round score was mirrored by Charley Hull, the English teenager who flirted with major glory for a spell only to slither back into a tie for seventh.

Hull, a team-mate of Matthew in the European team that won the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil last year, will be one of the star attractions at Birkdale in July and her young shoulders will no doubt have to lug the weight of heightened expectation like some golfing hod-carrier. "We'll find out in July if Charley can cope with the extra pressure and the focus she's going to be under at Birkdale," added Matthew. "I don't know if there was ever that much focus on me but she seems to have handled things pretty well over the past six to eight months. She's going to be a little bit used to it."

This July's championship is being held a month earlier than the 2013 edition and will take place from July 10-13, the same week as the men's Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. That is bad news for those of us who cannot be in two places at once but, with the Open Championship being held just down the road at Royal Liverpool the following week, it is an opportunity for the women's game to showcase itself with the golfing spotlight shining down on the north west of England during that period.

Stacy Lewis, who won the Women's Open at St Andrews last summer, will defend her title at a Royal Birkdale club that will be marking its 125th anniversary, with the first prize on offer to be almost £277,890.

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