November 15, 2019 / 12:08 AM / a month ago

Matthew delighted to lead Europe's Solheim Cup defence

(Reuters) - Catriona Matthew says captaining the winning Solheim Cup team this year was the highlight of her career after being appointed on Thursday to lead Europe’s bid to retain the trophy in 2021.

FILE PHOTO: Golf - Solheim Cup - Gleneagles, Britain - September 15, 2019 Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew holds up the trophy as team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Matthew believes she faces an even bigger challenge to inspire her players to victory in the United States in two years.

“Capturing the Solheim Cup in Scotland, an hour’s drive from our home, with my close friend Suzann Pettersen making the clinching putt on the last hole in the last match on the course…you can’t top that,” Matthew said in a posting on lpga.com as her captaincy was announced.

“I’ve talked to people throughout Scotland and they tell me how overwhelmed they were by the moment. It was the biggest thing to happen in women’s sport in Scotland, the United Kingdom, Europe ... perhaps the entire world. It won’t be soon forgotten.

“I’ve never seen anything like the crowds that week. It was extraordinary. I told my team to try to get the crowd into it, that they were desperate to cheer for Europe, so give them a reason to engage. No one disappointed.”   

But as thrilling as the one-point victory over the U.S. was in front of overflowing galleries at Gleneagles in September, winning in 2021 at Inverness in Ohio will be a whole different challenge.

Europe have only one away victory in the biennial event, at Colorado Golf Club in 2013.

“I’m sure we will have several of the same players on the 2021 team that we had in 2019. But we will also have some fresh faces. You always do in these matches,” Matthew wrote.

“It will be a challenge. But it will also be a privilege to be their captain as we try to win the Solheim Cup again…this time on American soil.”

The 2021 American captain is not expected to be announced until early next year.

Juli Inkster led the team at Gleneagles.

Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond

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