In November 1996 Catriona Matthew became the first Scotswoman to win the Women's Australian Open when she defeated Karrie Webb by 3 strokes at Yarra Yarra GC in Victoria. Fast forward almost 20 years and Matthew is still a force to be reckoned with in the game and has a genuine chance to lift the Patricia Bridges Bowl for the second time this weekend in Adelaide.
Matthew, from North Berwick shot a brilliant 67 in the wind on Thursday, then followed up with 69 in easier conditions today to take a share of the lead heading into the weekend at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at The Grange GC. It is a great testament to a player who despite being in her 46th year remains competitive anywhere she competes in the women's game around the world.
Her win in Melbourne in 1996 is such a distant memory that Matthew was shocked when told that it was a full 20 years ago. "I suppose I hadn't really thought about it being 20 years ago,'' she said.
Matthew is renowned for being a tough competitor and has long been respected as one of the great ball strikers in the women's game. She keeps playing because she loves competing. "I think that's the beauty of golf, you can play, it doesn't matter what your age is as long as you can hit the golf ball and still get it in the hole. Age really isn't a barrier.''
The 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open champion said she did not think about her age, even though many of her competitors are less than half her age, "I would say my game is getting better actually, I mean it has to, the standard's improved so much over the 20 years. You're always working on something, you're never happy as a golfer.''
The Scot said she would be "at home with her kids" if she could not compete. Her two girls Katie and Sophie are in school and at home in Scotland with family, but her husband Graeme is on the bag this week.
"It's nice, he has caddied for me for 15 or 16 years, but now he doesn't come out as much,'' she said. "I have a brother (David Lambert) who lives in Sydney and he's down and my mother (Joan) who's visiting him, so it's a little family reunion.''
Matthew hit 16 greens in regulation today and the highlight of her round was an eagle three at the first hole. "I'm delighted. When I played my practice round on Tuesday I thought it was a very tricky course. Some of the fairways are quite generous but you've really got to try and hit the greens, and that's what I've done really well the first few days.''
Tied with Matthew for the lead at 8 under par is fellow Brit Holly Clyburn, who shot the low round of the day 65 in the more favorable morning conditions.
Clyburn, playing in just her second LPGA tournament jumped out of the blocks this morning "I got off to a really hot start, starting eagle, birdie so it was nice, I was six under through nine and I had to settle myself down because you can’t take anything for granted on the back nine here" said the 25 year old from Cleethorpes in England "To finish with a nice birdie on 18 was important as well"
Clyburn clearly enjoys playing in Australia, she defeated a top class field in 2014 in winning the Bing Lee Fujitsu NSW Women's Open in Sydney "I love coming down here, it feels like I’m at home really"
In third place at 7 under par and just one shot behind Matthew and Clyburn is a group of four players, Xi Yu Lin from China, Haru Noruma from Japan, Jenny Shin from Korea and Caroline Masson from Germany.
Of the Australians Karrie Webb is still well in touch after a second round 71 to be just 2 shits adrift of the leaders, while Australia's number one ranked player Minjee Lee had a disappointing day at the office shooting a 4 under par round of 76 to be tied for 54th place at 1 over.
Overnight leader SooBin Kim struggled today shooting a 4 over par 76 to be 3 shots back at 5 under par.
The 36 hole cut fell at 2 over par with 77 players making it to the weekend.
For round 2 scores go to http://alpg.com.au/tournament.php?id=4471&pid=1150&sec=lb
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