The torrents of praise that have been gushing down on Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup captaincy already this week have just about led to the Gleneagles greenkeepers squeegee-ing the putting surfaces.

If it’s not the European players lauding her about this, then it’s her vice-captains praising her about that. It seems Matthew can do no wrong. Then again…

“We had a quiz the other night,” reported Matthew of the relaxed team-bonding sessions that have been taking place ahead of this weekend’s tussle with the USA. “We (Matthew’s team) certainly didn’t win. In fact, we were pathetic.”

Matthew will be hoping that’s the only setback she suffers as Europe look to prevent the USA winning a third successive Solheim Cup.

By all accounts, nothing is fazing Matthew and the general ambience she has created in the team-room is as soothing as a Radox bath with a ­harpsichord recital drifting along in the background.


“It’s just the calmness,” said Laura Davies, who is part of Matthew’s backroom posse. “But, make no mistake, she’s a fierce competitor. She wants to win this more than any of us.”

For Matthew, a veteran of nine Solheim Cup campaigns as a player, the chance to lead Europe to victory in her home country would be the crowning glory of a career jam-packed with prizes and plaudits.

“Some of my best moments have been in the Solheim Cup and it’s the highlight of my career every two years when it comes round,” she said. “I think to be a winning captain at Gleneagles and in Scotland would rank just above my Women’s British Open win.”

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When it comes to the role of the captain in team competitions, analysts and experts like to portray the skipper as some kind of deep-thinking mastermind who can harness and dictate the ebb and

flow of golfing events utilising everything from pod systems, quantum physics and what type of sweaters the players wear.

Back in ye day, the captain’s job seemed relatively straightforward. What was it Ben Hogan said to his Ryder Cup troops back in 1967 again?

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do this job. I’m going to pair straight hitters with straight hitters and crooked hitters with crooked hitters so you won’t find yourselves in unfamiliar places.”

Matthew, it seems, is adopting something of a basic approach to the role too.

“We have got a great team here, a real mix of personalities and maybe I’m oversimplifying this but we are just here to keep them happy,” said Matthew of her duties.

“Obviously we have to do the ­pairings but we just have to keep them loose and help them as much as we can with our experience. Once they are on the golf course, there’s really not much we can do. We are just cheerleaders on the sidelines hoping they hole the putts.”

Bronte Law, the English golfer with a terrific pedigree in the matchplay cut-and-thrust, is certainly a fan of the Matthew approach.

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“She doesn’t over-talk or arrange loads of meetings or stuff like that,” she said.

“She gets to the point and says what needs to be said in as few words as possible. That’s something a lot of great captains have.”

America have a higher world ranking collectively and have been installed as favourites by the bookies but that’s not washing with a pumped-up Law.

“I’d love to know who said that we weren’t favourites,” snorted Law. “I’m not sure what sort of information they are getting.”

The battle lines have been drawn.