Matthew completes the job
LADIES IRISH OPEN:SCOTLAND’S CATRIONA Matthew held off a dramatic back nine challenge from defending champion and Solheim Cup team-mate Suzann Pettersen to clinch a one-stroke, wire-to-wire victory in the Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle.
The 42-year-old added a 71 to rounds of 67 and 71 to seal her ninth career win on seven under par 209 after Pettersen uncharacteristically threw away the title with a soft bogey at the 17th, finishing with a 69 before hot-footing it to the airport.
It was a nail-biting conclusion to a successful event but what the future holds in the post-Solheim Cup 2012 era remains to be seen as all 15 sponsors, including AIB and Fáilte Ireland, officially ended their involvement last night.
AIB will not be back and Fáilte Ireland’s future involvement will depend on budgetary constraints, leaving the now independent tournament promoter Roddy Carr with a huge challenge on his hands.
The former IMG and Amen Corner agent has successfully put women’s golf back on the Irish golfing public’s radar thanks to the long build up to last year’s highly successful Solheim Cup.
And while he believes that the event could go forward without Fáilte Ireland’s financial backing, he knows he must come up with an revolutionary battle plan.
“This was a chapter,” Carr said at the finish. “Every one of the 15 sponsors we have, including the AIB support and the Government support, terminates tonight.
“But it’s the end of a chapter only, and it’s the beginning of the future for women’s golf. It is now up to me as the independent promotor of the Ladies Irish Open going forward to come up with a sustainable solution for this tournament.
“That’s what I’m working on; not a quick fix, not a sticking plaster job, a sustainable solution long term for this event.
A revolutionary new model is needed but what that turns out to be, remains to be seen. But Carr says he has ideas.
“I’ve been working on that for six months and have something very different in mind. But if it takes a year and it doesn’t happen next year, you wait until the following year to get it absolutely right.”
Matthew would be keen to return to the site of her Solheim Cup heroics after holding on for a fifth Ladies European Tour win worth €52,500.
Two shots clear overnight, she was still two ahead with five to play as her nearest challengers Carly Booth and Pernilla Lindberg fell away.
The Edinburgh native was two clear most of the day but saw her lead disappear when she bogeyed the 14th and Pettersen, three behind starting out, got up and down from sand for a birdie at the 500-yard 15th to go three under for the day and draw level on six under.
Playing in the group behind, the 42-year-old Scot responded, draining a 30-footer for birdie there to go one clear again. But while Pettersen immediately birdied the 16th from 15 feet to draw level again, Matthew finished the stronger.
After getting up and down from sand at the 16th for par, she birdied the 17th from 12 feet after Pettersen (69) had made a poor bogey, bunkering her sand wedge and failing with a 20-footer for par.
The Norwegian parred the last for a 69 to finish on six under but was plainly seething afterwards.
“I made a good run at it and played good until I made a silly bogey on 17,” she said after earning €35,525. “I thought I could hit a very hard sand wedge from 85 yards and just misjudged the wind.”
With a two stroke lead playing the 18th, Matthew wasn’t too concerned when she overshot the 18th and found the back bunker and bogeyed.
“I’m absolutely delighted. It’s always difficult going out in the lead. I was just kind of trotting along there at seven under and saw Suzann making some birdies, Matthew said. “I think she thought she was in the Solheim Cup again.
“I think it was always going to be difficult coming back here in a way with so many good memories but maybe I was a little bit inspired by some of my play from last year in the Solheim Cup.”
Former winner Laura Davies belied her 48 years and a niggling achilles injury she pick up playing football when she closed with a 68 to take third place on three under par.