Catriona Matthew 'one of most under-rated' British sportswomen

Catriona Matthew
Catriona Matthew will be vice-captain of Europe's Solheim Cup team

Catriona Matthew is one of Britain's most under-appreciated sportswomen, according to Scottish Golf performance director Steve Paulding.

And he thinks the 46-year-old Scot is an ideal position to become Europe's Solheim Cup captain in 2019.

Matthew was this week named as vice-captain for the 2017 event.

"I think she is one of the most under-rated Scottish and probably British sportswomen there are," said Paulding about the 2009 British Open champion.

"It is phenomenal what she's done in her career - over 100 top 10s on the ladies tour in the US.

"She has played in something like eight Solheim Cups - and a number of those teams won against the US.

"If she was a male player, she would have a completely different profile than she does."

Matthew, who will compete for Team GB at the Rio Olympics, is hoping to combine her vice-captaincy with playing in the next Solheim Cup team - but could concentrate on captaincy when the event comes to Gleneagles in 2019.

"Catriona has always said she would be winding down her golf [by then]," Paulding told BBC Scotland.

Catriona Matthew with the British Open trophy
Catriona Matthew won the British Open in 2009

"She has achieved just about everything she can and her Olympics selection is a one-off fantastic opportunity.

"Her vice-captaincy does set her up nicely to be captain at Gleneagles two years later.

"I would hope and love to see her as captain. It would be a glittering recognition of what has been a fantastic career."

Matthew is competing at the Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, where action began on Thursday morning.

Paulding is hopeful the veteran will help inspire the next generation of top Scottish female golfers.

"Catriona is on our performance committee and she is trying to give back more and more to Scottish golf," he said.

"There is a bit of generational gap, where we've got some successful late 30s and 40-year-old males and we haven't had the mid-20s coming through.

"It's very different on the ladies' game - we've got a great crop of young female players who have come through.

"But the dynamics are different. A number of the females decide that there isn't enough money to make a career out of it and they actually play as amateur golfers a little bit longer."