Women's Open champion Catriona Matthew talks to TG


Q. How does it feel to be Britain’s first major winner in five years?
A. It’s really quite amazing. Obviously, there was just having the baby and I wasn’t really going there expecting to win it so to go there and win on my second event back was really quite unbelievable.

Q. You won just 11 weeks after giving birth to your second child. How was you mindset?
A. I don’t think I was expecting to win. I’d been practicing for three of four weeks before I came back to play and I’d been playing well. I hadn’t played much for five months so you’re never quite sure how you’re going to come back. I was a little bit nervous at the Evian Masters but I had a nice couple of rounds there. I suppose it’s like riding a bike, you don’t just forget it.

Q. What happened with the hotel fire at the Evian Masters?
A. It was on the Wednesday night before the first round. I was just lying there at about 10.30pm going to sleep and I suddenly heard what sounded like rain. We opened the door and there were flames and smoke everywhere so we ran out.
At the time you just react and run out but afterwards you kind of think how close it could have been.
We lost probably half our stuff. We just picked up our rucksacks and ran out so we lost most of our clothes. My husband Graeme (also her caddy) got his feet burned because we ran out without any shoes on in the panic and he stood on something that had come off the roof.

Q. What’s it like to have your husband caddy for you?
A. It’s great, especially when you win a huge tournament like the British Open. There’s nothing better that having your husband there on your bag. He’s caddied now for probably 12 years.

Q. Who’s the boss on the course?
A. I suppose I’m the player so ultimately the decision of what club or whatever is mine.

Q. Has your mindset changed since becoming a mum?
A. Yeah, I’d say I’m a bit more relaxed now on the course. Golf’s not everything now. I think it enables me to play better because you don’t dwell on the bad things as much.

Q. What’s the longest you’ve been away from your children?
A. I think three weeks was the longest and it was pretty tough. The first week was nice because you catch up on your sleep but then you just start to miss them.

Q. How was your Solheim Cup experience this year?
A. It’s always one of the best weeks. I love playing in it. I think just having the team format is always different in golf so it’s a great week. It was a shame about the result, but we’ll get them next time. I definitely think playing at home is a big factor.

Q. How would you assess the current state of women’s golf?
A. I think player-wise it’s really good. You’ve got some young Americans coming up, some good Europeans – Anna Nordqvist won a major this year. And obviously you’ve got the Koreans. I think it’s just struggling like everything else with the credit crunch but I’m sure it’ll come back in the next few years when things start picking up. Everyone’s struggling at the moment so it’d be strange if women’s golf wasn’t struggling for sponsorship.

Q. Was playing with Christina Kim in the final round at the British Open a help or hindrance?
A. It was probably a help because it let me relax a little bit more rather than playing with someone who’s quieter because I could listen to Christina and have a little chuckle to myself. I’ve played with her a lot and I’m really quite friendly with her so she was good to play with and she couldn’t have been more encouraging when she knew she was out of it.

Q. What are your plans for next year?
A. We’ll be travelling as a family and hopefully I can go on and win some more tournaments and contend in the majors. I’d love to win the US Open so that’s one I’ll go for next year and obviously defending the British Open at Birkdale.

Q. When was the last time you said sorry?
A. Probably yesterday for getting a question wrong on Question of Sport.

Q. If you weren’t a golfer, what would you be doing?
A. Probably an accountant. That’s what I’m trained to do, it’s what I studied at university. Graham is also qualified as an accountant but we have someone else to do our books (laughs).

Q. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?
A. For me, who hates heights, it’s going paragliding two weeks ago. There were other players there so I was egged on to do it.