Readers of a certain vintage may be familiar with Dinah Shore, that sweetheart of the Big Band era whose name, admittedly, sounds a bit like a nice links course on America’s west coast.

When she wasn’t belting out the hits of yesteryear, Shore was developing a keen interest in golf and that would manifest itself in 1972 when she put her name to the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, an event that would blossom and attain major status 11 years later. 

This coming week, the championship, now known as the ANA Inspiration, celebrates its 50th staging as golf’s major season swings into action. “It’s a bit like our Masters,” said the Scottish veteran Catriona Matthew of this golfing rite of spring. “The same venue every year, a limited field and just a tournament you always wanted to be at.”

Matthew, of course, won’t be in California having called time on her LPGA Tour campaigning in 2019 but the opening major on the calendar still stirs the senses. It also brings back a few memories. “What I do recall is three-putting the last,” she said with a wry sigh of a breathless finale to the 2007 championship during which Matthew flirted with victory.

While Suzann Pettersen was spluttering and wheezing to the finishing line – she was three ahead with six to play but collapsed like a High Street chain in a pandemic – Matthew could have sneaked in the back door. Her bogey on the last, though, scuppered her chances of a play-off and she came in just a shot behind the 18-year-old Morgan Pressel, who became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour major.

At the time, it was Matthew’s best finish in a major. The circumstances of it, meanwhile, made it all the more impressive. “It was only my second event back after my first daughter was born,” recalled Matthew. “It gave a me a real lift. It was proof that I could still compete.”

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A couple of years later, the proof was in the pudding as Matthew conjured, well, the mother of all triumphs when she claimed the 2009 Women’s British Open just 11 weeks after becoming a mum for the second time.

Here in 2021, Matthew will be keeping an eye on her Solheim Cup contenders as events unfold in California. Her first stint as captain at Gleneagles two years ago ended in a thrilling, final hole European conquest that was so jam-packed with unbearable tension, they are still sweeping up nibbled fingernails around the 18th green of the PGA Centenary course to this day.

“I’m not sure if it’s less pressure for an away match,” said the nine-time Solheim Cup player of September’s tussle in Toledo. “But it’s perhaps that little bit less time consuming. With an away game you’re not doing all the media stuff, the promotional work and all the things that go into the build-up. I can just really focus on the players this time.”

At 51, Matthew’s own playing days are not behind her just yet even though she has greatly reduced her outings. The showpiece occasions like the Women’s Scottish Open and the AIG Women’s Open still whet the appetite, though. 

“The Women’s Open is at Muirfield next year and then St Andrews in 2024 so that will keep me going,” she said of these enticing prospects. “But it gets tougher each year. You don’t want to go out there and make a fool of yourself. There will be a point when I know I can’t do it anymore. I knew when I stopped playing in the US that it was the right time.”

Matthew carried the saltire on the global stage with great dignity and accomplishment and she remains eager to pass on her abundant pearls of wisdom to the next generation. 

Along with Paul Lawrie, as part of a new Scottish Golf performance set-up, she knows what is required to make it in a complex and competitive environment of fickle and unpredictable fortunes. “It takes much more than just swinging a club,” she said. “Paul got success his way, I achieved it a different way. Look at Monty? He never liked to practice. Every player is different. There’s no point trying to mould them all one way. All we can do is offer advice and those young players can build something that works for them. You have to have faith in your ability. Stay true to yourself and don’t try to copy what others do.”

Plenty of players would like to copy Matthew's stellar career, mind you.