Matthew, Booth lone Scots in Women's British field
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Scottish golf fans hoping to see one of their own win this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open have all their eggs in just two baskets.
Catriona Matthew and Carly Booth are the only two Scottish players in the 144-women field for the second year in a row. It's a sad reflection on the state of the women’s game in the Home of Golf.
Matthew is the last Scottish player to win a major championship, triumphing in this tournament in 2009 at Royal Lytham. She very nearly was the only Scot in this year’s field.
Booth had to come through Pre- and Final Qualifying. The two-time Ladies’ European Tour winner emerged from a 12-woman playoff at Kingsbarns on Monday to take one of the last four spots into the $2.75-million championship.
“It’s very disappointing there’s only two of us,” Matthew said. “I think there’s some good youngsters coming up. Hopefully we’ll get a few in the next few years.”
It might be a forlorn hope.
The number of Scottish women playing in this championship has been dwindling year-on-year. Numbers have more than halved since this championship was first staged at St. Andrews in 2007. Five Scottish women played then.
This story comes amid much debate in Scotland about the effect single-sex clubs are having on participation. The topic reared its controversial head during the Open Championship at Muirfield, when a number of high-profile politicians lambasted the R&A for staging the Open at Muirfield, one of three men-only clubs on the Open rota.
Scottish women account for just 14 percent of all Scottish golfers. That figure compares to 35 percent in Germany and Austria, 29 percent in Spain, Denmark and Belgium, and 26 percent in France. Only three European countries – Latvia, Greece and Serbia – have lower female participation levels than Scotland.
Matthew is ranked No. 10 the Rolex Rankings. She is the only Scot in the top 100. Booth is ranked No. 191 in the world. They are the only two players in the world top 200. Vikki Laing is the next highest ranked Scot at No. 329.
Scots are conspicuous by their absence on the Ladies European Tour money list, too. Matthew and Booth are two of only four in the top 100 of the LET money list. Laing and 2012 Curtis Cup player Pamela Pretswell are the others.
Matthew’s prediction of good young players coming through isn’t supported by the facts. There are no Scots in the top 100 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. Gemma Dryburgh is the leading player at No. 183, the only player in the top 200.
“I was surprised when I realized it was only two of us,” Booth said. “I think there was a lot of us in Final Qualifying that didn’t manage to get through. It’s a shame that there’s not more, but it’s pretty cool to be one of two here playing this week.”
Booth is either uninformed or using a bit of editorial license. There were just six Scots in the 90-women field. Just more than six percent of the field is hardly cause for celebration.
Aside from Matthew and Booth, there really hasn't been much for Scotland to shout about for many years.