x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Matthew plants herself into contention

The Scot shoots a 67 to share the halfway lead with Italy's Giulia Sergas in the Women's British Open at Royal Lytham.

No one goes more quietly about her golfing business than Catriona Matthew. But yesterday, as she tacked a 67 to her opening 74 to share the halfway lead with Italy's Giulia Sergas in the Ricoh Women's British Open at Lytham, the 39-year-old Scot was behind a host of noisy outbursts. Matthew, who had her second child only 11 weeks ago, notched consecutive eagles - a three at the par five 11th and a one at the 154 yards 12th - on her way to a homeward 30 which has never been known in the men's Open. At the 487 yards 11th, she hit a rescue wood to six feet, while her hole-in-one was down to a perfectly-struck eight iron. At each of those holes, Matthew reacted with little more than a gentle smile as the crowds cheered. Jay Burton, who manages the rather more outgoing Paula Creamer, was mesmerised by Matthew's demeanour. "She's quite astonishing the way she takes things in her stride," he said. Without a doubt, the Scot's placid manner played its part in the way she shrugged off the hotel fire which she and her husband, Graeme, discovered at their hotel at last week's Evian Masters. When the other women professionals heard Matthew, of all people, running down the corridor and yelling "Fire, fire!" they knew that this was no prank. Graeme burnt his foot while Korea's Amy Yang had to jump from her window. With Ricoh having pledged to plant a tree for a birdie, five for an eagle and a thousand for an ace for their Green Initiatives for Tomorrow programme, Matthew contributed 1010 to the cause yesterday. Those who worry about the need to preserve the character of the UK's ancient links need not worry. The trees are for Africa rather than Royal Lytham. Laura Davies, who had a nightmare of a seven-over-par 79 on Thursday, needed to keep out of trouble for one more hole yesterday if she was to make a halfway cut expected at eight-over.