Catriona Matthew ready to give someone else a try at Solheim

National Sports

ATLANTA (AP)Catriona Matthew of Scotland made her Solheim Cup debut in 1998 at Muirfield Village. She is leaving after 23 years with quite a legacy.

Matthew had a career mark of 18-11-8 in her nine appearances as a player, in which she had 14 partners in team matches. She was 2-0 as captain, becoming the first European captain to win back-to-back.

And now it’s time to go. Asked during the winner’s news conference about returning, Matthew didn’t hesitate.

”Nope. It’s over to someone else now,” she said. ”We have so many good past players, and I think everyone deserves their chance to be captain.”

Mickey Walker is the only woman to be Solheim Cup captain four times, and those were the first four matches dating to the start in 1990. Juli Inkster has led the American team the most times, going 2-1 as captain.

”I think to be part of the Solheim – I was lucky enough to play in nine and I’ve captained two, and I’ve had a fantastic time,” Matthew said. ”It’s the best week I’ve had every two years, and to have been involved with it now for over 20 years, I’m sure I’ll be there watching. But it’s someone else’s turn.”

Anna Nordqvist recalls watching Matthew play from outside the ropes as a spectator at Barseback in the 2003 matches in Sweden, and then playing alongside her on five teams and under her on the last two teams.

”Having her as a captain the last two years and seeing the way she has led the team, the way she’s brought all the girls together, hands down this is the best team I think Europe ever had.”

HBCU SUPPORT

The PGA Tour invited its official marketing partners to a forum at The Players Championship in March to discuss ways to strengthen each other’s business. One of the topics was a plan to help historically Black universities and colleges cope with travel expenses for the golf team.

United Airlines was interested.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced last week that United Airlines has pledged a $10,000 grant to each of the 51 men’s and women’s HBCU golf programs.

The tour learned from HBCU programs and research that it cost about $3,000 to send a team to a college tournament. The grants effectively allow golf programs to compete in two additional tournaments. The rest of the money could be used for travel to help with recruiting, another important asset cited by the golf programs.

Monahan said the golf programs will start receiving the grants in January.

The tour said other marketing partners already have shown an interest in contributing to the program.

”We are incredibly excited about the positive responses we’re seeing from our corporate partners in wanting to support HBCU golf programs, and we are confident that this momentum will continue,” Monahan said.

VIDEO REVIEW

Bryson DeChambeau was spared two shots in the third round of the Tour Championship thanks to the use of a camera he probably didn’t know was even there.

DeChambeau pulled his tee shot well to the left of the 18th fairway at East Lake and then began the frantic search for the golf ball, which sank to the bottom of Bermuda grass.

Still in operation was one of the cameras used to track shots for ShotLink on the adjacent par-3 11th green. Operators from the truck were able to go back and see that after the ball landed, a spectator picked it up and quickly walked away.

Only it wasn’t that simple. Officials then had to determine if the use of cameras to figure out what had happened to the ball occurred within the three minutes DeChambeau was allowed to look. Turns out it was well within the three minutes, and he received a free drop instead of having to go back to the 18th tee and play his third shot.

The cameras along fairways and greens have replaced the lasers on the ground that had been tracking every shot from every player. The PGA Tour now is hopeful to be able to use cameras in other situations, such as whether a ball is embedded or landed in a pitch mark, or even where it crossed a hazard if there’s a question.

ROOKIE RACE

The race for PGA Tour rookie of the year is one of the smallest ever, and it’s mildly surprising there’s even a race at all.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down golf for three months last year, the PGA Tour decided to have a ”double season” for the Korn Ferry Tour, with points accumulated through the end of 2021. That meant no graduation to the PGA Tour and thus no rookies.

And then there were two. Will Zalatoris qualified as a rookie when he achieved special temporary membership in just five starts, beginning with his tie for sixth in the U.S. Open. With a runner-up finish at the Masters as eight top 10s, he’s practically a shoo-in for the Arnold Palmer Award.

His competition is Garrick Higgo of South Africa, who became a member (and a rookie) by winning the Palmetto Championship at Congaree in South Carolina.

JAPAN QUANDRY

Harris English would love to play in Japan, and he likes playing in the fall. He’s just not sure this is the best year for it.

English was among those who filled out his paperwork to travel to the Zozo Championship for Oct. 21-24. Is that a practical trip? His plan is to play the two weeks in Las Vegas preceding Japan, including the CJ Cup that has moved from South Korea for the second year.

”So it’s a little tough going from the CJ Cup and flying straight to Japan, getting there on Tuesday,” he said.

English has a title to defend in December at the QBE Shootout with Matt Kuchar (they are going for a record fourth title), and he can expect to be in the Bahamas the previous week for the Hero World Challenge. He also lives at Sea Island, host of the RSM Classic.

”I don’t know when I’m going to take some weeks off,” English said. ”There’s a lot of tournaments I want to play. I would love to go to Japan. I’ve never played golf in Japan. It’s just trying to find if the schedule works.”

DIVOTS

The European Tour is returning to Mallorca in Spain for the first time in 10 years. The Mallorca Golf Open will be Oct. 21-24. It takes the place of the canceled Trophy Hassan II and anchors a three-week stretch in Spain that includes the Spanish Open and Andalucia Masters. … Sixteen of the 28 matches in the Solheim Cup went to the 18th hole. Europe’s record was 7-5-4. … Thirty of the 48 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour this year were decided by one shot or by a playoff. … Sungjae Im was the only player at the Tour Championship who played in more than 30 tournaments this year. Im played 35 times. … Of the nine players who earned cards through the Korn Ferry Finals and will be PGA Tour rookies next year, three played the European Tour exclusively last year – Aaron Rai of England, Matthias Schwab of Austria and Kurt Kitayama, who grew up in California and played college golf at UNLV.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Leona Maguire of Ireland, in her first Solheim Cup, was the only player to go all five matches. She was 4-0-1.

FINAL WORD

”She’s the one we’re going to have to fear for a long time.” U.S. Solheim Cup captain Pat Hurst on Leona Maguire.

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