YOU can’t go on forever. Well, unless you’re the imperishable Cliff Richard. “Age catches up with you,” sighed Catriona Matthew with a reflective smile. Sir Cliff, be warned.

By her own admission, Matthew has been “winding down” for a wee while now.

Having carried the saltire with grand aplomb on the global circuit for over a quarter-of-a-century, the 52-year-old has earned the right to take it a bit easier.

In a more limited, pick-and-choose schedule, Matthew won’t be playing in this season’s Trust Golf Scottish Women’s Open at Dundonald Links but she’ll still be a strong presence as the tournament’s ambassador. “It’s nice to still be involved,” she said of this ceremonial role.

Matthew won her home Open title twice in 2011 and 2013. Since then, of course, the domestic women’s showpiece has enjoyed the kind of financial fillip you’d get with a Las Vegas jackpot.

Matthew’s brace of Scottish successes were worth a combined £54,000. These days, as a co-sanctioned event with the LPGA Tour and bolstered by Trust Golf’s hefty commitment, the winner walks away with almost five-times that amount.

She may not be playing at Dundonald Links but, in a fortnight of world-class women’s golf in the game’s cradle, Matthew will tee-up at an historic AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield the following week.

“I’m never going to say I’m going to retire, I’ll still pop up every so often,” said the 2009 Women’s Open champion who steered Europe to back-to-back Solheim Cup triumphs as captain in 2019 and 2021.

“To be honest, though, I’m quite happy to play a limited schedule. My girls are older now but they are at the stage when they want me home a bit more. With Covid being around the last couple of years too, I’ve been naturally winding down. I wasn’t playing great either so I felt the time was right. It’s tough when you’re not playing or practising as much. You’re just not that competitive.”

In this game for all ages, though, there are always new opportunities. “I’m trying to peak for the US Senior Women’s Open,” she said of the marquee event for the golden oldies later in the season.

Unlike the men’s over-50s circuit, which provides a bountiful golfing land of milk and honey for the auld yins, the female scene is still in its infancy. “It’s still a patchy schedule,” she conceded. “But the US Women’s Open has been very successful and hopefully there could be one over here. It started too late for a certain generation but we have Annika Sorenstam playing in the US one and that’s what these events need to be a success; the top names.”

While she has her sights set on some senior outings, Matthew is keeping a keen eye on the fresh talent of a new generation coming through the amateur ranks. This weekend she is off to Merion in Pennsylvania with the GB&I Curtis Cup squad where she will pass on a whole bucket load of pearls of wisdom.

“A Curtis Cup in America is tough,” said Matthew of June’s tussle with the USA. “I remember my first one in America in 1990. You’re nearly overawed. It was quite daunting. I was completely under prepared and taken aback by it all. I did learn though. Hopefully I can give the girls some knowledge. Even if they take just one thing from me then it will be worthwhile. The Curtis Cup is a bit like the Solheim Cup in many ways but the girls obviously don’t have the same experience.”

Talking of experiences, 15-year-old Grace Crawford has certainly been enjoying a few recently. Crawford, who hails from Matthew’s home town of North Berwick, became the first Scot in 20 years to win the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open and followed it up with victory in The R&A’s Girls’ Under-16 Championship.

“It’s a great experience to win a lot, at whatever level,” said Matthew, who was also a winner of the Helen Holm back in the day. “The winning feeling is invaluable. And it’s great to get used to that feeling.

“With Hannah Darling and Louise Duncan, we have a few coming through together. They all seem to have their heads screwed on. They are focussed, they have that quiet determination and they just get the job done.”

Those sound just like the qualities of a certain golfer who’s done pretty well for herself.