Catriona Matthew details her life and esteemed career on My Icon
Watch Catriona Matthew open up about her life and career on My Icon, available now On Demand ...
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 08/03/19 11:07am
Catriona Matthew is a mum of two, has a degree in accounting, won a golf tournament in Brazil while five months pregnant, won the Women's British Open less than three months after giving birth, and is preparing to captain Europe in the Solheim Cup after nine appearances as a player.
There are not many sportswomen worldwide who possess the same multitude of talents as the popular Scot, known affectionately as "Beany", and she has been talking about her life and career as part of the Sky Sports "My Icon" series.
Matthew will celebrate her 50th birthday just three weeks before leading Europe into battle against Juli Inkster's American team in the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September, and the 2009 Women's British Open champion has long been one of the most respected characters in the game of golf.
But how did it all start?
"My first memory of golf would be here in North Berwick. There's a little kids course just along the road, a nine-hole par-three course. I'd tag along with my dad and my two brothers and probably annoyed them intensely, being the competitive person I was! I always wanted to beat them.
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"My mum and dad thought long and hard about what they were going to call me; they didn't want it to be shortened to anything. Then one of my brothers couldn't say Catriona so my dad called me 'Treany Beany' and luckily the Beany bit was the one that stuck!
"Growing up I actually played badminton as my main sport until I was 16 or 17. I played that four or five times a week and then golf was a summer sport. When I was about 16ish I started winning some events at golf and realised I was going to be pretty good at that.
"As I progressed and I got a little bit better, I started getting lessons from Jimmy Hume who was a great local pro here at Gullane. He was very enthusiastic and encouraging and it was probably him who helped me the most in those early years.
"I think I just love the way you're always challenging yourself. In so many sports you have to play with someone of a similar ability, whereas with golf you can just go and do it yourself. You could work away on your own and play with different people of all different abilities. It was about that challenge of you and the golf course and you trying to better the golf course."
Change of career?
Matthew was uncertain if she could make a decent living being a pro golfer, so she decided to have a safety net and considered a career in finance.
"At the time there wasn't a whole lot of ladies golf on the television so you didn't really know if you could make a career or a living out of it. I always wanted that fall back to have a degree, where I could go out and get a regular degree if I had to.
"I went to Stirling and did a degree in accounting. They were one of the first universities in the UK along with Loughborough to start their sports scholarships. When I finished, I actually had a job to go and become a trainee accountant, but decided to turn pro and give that a go. I'm glad I did that!
"I was always wanting to test myself against the best, so I thought 'let's turn pro and see how good I can be'. I went to the States to go to Q-school and at the time probably, quite naively, if I hadn't made what I would be missing.
"First year was actually a bit of a challenge. In my second or third tournament I was walking to the tee and then, suddenly, the next thing I knew I was in hospital! I had an ovarian cyst that twisted so I then missed three or four months and had to have emergency surgery.
"My first year was a little bit of a write-off and I probably came back a little too soon, but when you're that age you think you're superhuman! I had a full card and I went back to a conditional card, but then 1996 took off from there.
"I was quite fortunate that a good friend of mine, Kathryn Imrie, had turned pro a couple of years before me and she was on tour. We travelled out a lot together, and then after a couple of years my husband came out and travelled with me and caddied.
"We met at university. We were both on golf scholarships and both studying similar things, so that's where we met. I don't think I would've stayed on tour as long as I have done if he hadn't been out there caddieing.
"It's just nice to have someone else out there, so luckily it worked out well for us. It's always a challenge when your husband's caddieing, but I was fortunate that I was playing well and when you're playing well it's a lot easier. We had some quiet evenings, but 99% of the time it worked out well."
Matthew gave birth to her first daughter, Katie, towards the end of 2007 and returned to competition three months later, almost winning her maiden major at the ANA Inspiration. But travelling with a young baby was a challenge ...
"Katie was born just at the end of December and then I came back in March for Phoenix. I had a good chance of winning the ANA (she was tied for second), so I probably should have had children sooner!
"Looking back it was a challenge travelling with a young baby, but I think you just adapt to it. You realise you have to be organised with your practice, your travel and the amount of luggage you seemed to take, but you wouldn't change it for the world!
"You were nervous coming back because you didn't know whether you would be able to play well, whether it would be too much. That was probably the longest I'd ever had off playing golf, so coming back playing at golf at the top level you just never quite know.
Matthew's second daughter arrived early in 2009, but once again she defied the odds and made a swift return to competitive golf, and it proved a smart move as she claimed a memorable win at the Women's British Open. But the Matthew family did endure a major scare on the eve of the tournament...
"It was an amazing year. I think I won in Brazil maybe five months pregnant with Sophie, and then the Evian that year was the first one back after having Sophie. Graeme and myself went out by ourselves and my mum and dad were coming down with the girls to Lytham.
"It was the Wednesday evening and I was lying thinking that it was raining, so we looked out to find that the roof was on fire. We opened the door and there were flames everywhere, so I panicked and ran straight out without shoes or anything on.
"Graeme burnt his feet and we were then running around shouting "FIRE" because there were other players staying there. I think Amy Yang, who was staying next door to us, ended up having to jump out of her balcony, so quite scary.
"Once we got out of the room you're just sitting there watching the fire engines come and looking at the place on fire. It ended up being a deliberate fire, which in a way made it worse.
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"A top-20 I thought was a realistic goal. It was a Solheim Cup year so I thought I wasn't going to get my name back in the picture if I didn't get a couple of good results after that.
"I suppose I went in more relaxed and didn't put as much pressure on myself, as I think that was probably a problem in the past. You always want to play well in your home Open, so this time I was going in a little more relaxed.
"The Friday morning when I had that amazing back nine vaulted me up into the lead, but even then probably was I thinking that I could win it? Perhaps not.
"It wasn't really until after the Saturday where I had a two or three shot lead going into the Sunday. That was probably when I was getting the most nervous, because I thought I could actually win now. That started to put more pressure on myself, rather than the happy-go-lucky of the first three days.
"It wasn't until I hit my tee shot at the last that I knew I had won it. Then I felt like I could relax. The last at Lytham is pretty tight and has a lot of bunkers, so I thought if I could avoid those bunkers with a three-shot lead, I could hack it down from there and get it in.
"It wasn't the wildest of celebrations and it took quite a few days afterwards for it to sink in. I think to realise the feat of just having Sophie 11 weeks before, it's not probably until just recently that has really sunk in as to quite what a feat that was. At the time, you're just going through autopilot.
The magic of the Solheim Cup
"The first one is quite daunting. You're the rookie coming into the team and all the players you've looked upto over the years, like Laura (Davies), Liselotte (Neumann), Helen Alfredsson and Trish Johnson. All these players you've been watching and trying to be as good as you're thrown in with and suddenly in the same team as.
"From that first one I've loved. I've always love the team element of golf. Matchplay is great fun and something different away from the usual 72-hole sport where you're focused on yourself.
"In that last one, I hadn't been playing that great and didn't make it in the team so Annika asked me to be a vice-captain, which I was really looking forward to doing. Then Suzann got injured and I got pulled in at the last second.
"It was great to play in, even though unfortunately we didn't win. When you've been on every side, playing your way in, not getting in, getting a pick, you know the emotions and the things that the people are going through in that positon. It gives you a little bit more perspective of what they're looking for.
"I think that it's great that I'm still out there playing. You still get to see them all, play with them all and chat away to them. You're more one of them and not frightened or scared that you're suddenly out watching them. You just want to try and make them feel comfortable, as it's a nerve-racking experience as it is!
"Something like the Solheim Cup is a great chance to try and promote ladies golf and women's golf in Scotland. We do struggle to get girls into playing golf. As girls growing up, if you see people doing things then it certainly encourages you to do them.
"If I can encourage Scottish or British girls to play golf, show them that it is a fun sport and a sport for girls, then I think that would be a good legacy.
Don't miss the My Icon Sportswomen special, available on Sky Sports Mix - the whole series will also be available On Demand, as are all the episodes from previous series.