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Monday, September 07, 2009

Catriona's win inspires Scottish team

by Elspeth Burnside

Catriona Matthew’s win in the Ricoh Women’s British Open was a highlight of the summer and Scottish team captain Lesley Nicholson is confident that there will be more cause for celebration at the Home Internationals at Irvine this week.

Kylie Walker (Buchanan Castle) and Pamela Pretswell (Bothwell castle) - both members of the GB and Ireland team that competed in the Vagliano Trophy in July – head a strong line-up that also includes Curtis Cup teenager Carly Booth (Comrie), Scottish Champion Megan Briggs (Kilmacolm) and Order of Merit leader, Louise Kenney (Pitreavie). Youngsters Kelsey MacDonald (Nairn Dunbar), Laura Murray (Alford) and the one new cap, Jane Turner (Craigielaw), complete the squad.

“We have a very strong team and I think we have an excellent chance of winning,” said Nicholson, who played in the 2000 Curtis Cup before spending several years as a professional on the Ladies’ European Tour. “All the players have had a very good summer, with five of them finishing in the top ten at the recent British Women’s Strokeplay Championship.

“Catriona’s success has definitely motivated everybody. I think that’s one of the reasons that everybody seems to be hitting form at just the right time for the Home Internationals.”

“We had a match against a Scottish Golf Union men’s team at Irvine in March and another practice session last week,” she said. “I also have to give a huge thank you to the club for giving the team courtesy of the course throughout the year.

“It gave the girls the chance to go there themselves and work out some foursomes partnerships and, with all the work done by National coach Kevin Craggs and team manager, Claire Hargan, we have built up a really good team spirit.”

Walker, who intends to turn professional at the end of the season, also suggests that Matthew’s success will act as huge inspiration. “She has done so much for Scottish golf in general, and ladies’ golf in particular,” said the 23-year-old from Buchanan Castle. “Her win at Lytham has definitely made us so up for it this week.

”Lesley has also been brilliant because she’s done it all and know exactly what we need, while Kevin and Claire are so upbeat and are both great for the whole squad.”

Scotland open against Ireland on Wednesday, followed by England on Thursday and the final match is against defending champion, Wales.

“We finished third last year, but all the matches were very close and it could really have gone any way,” concluded Nicholson. “This year, we have a few factors in our favour and I’m confident we can come out s champions.”