Catriona Matthew: Golf majors 'should be equal pay' says Solheim Cup captain

Catriona Matthew
Catriona Matthew, 49, will captain Europe in the 2019 Solheim Cup

Making the men's and women's Open Championship and US Open tournaments pay the same prize money for men and women could help boost equality in golf, says Catriona Matthew.

The sport has been criticised in recent years for paying male major winners more than their female counterparts.

Francesco Molinari, the 2018 men's Open winner, was paid over £1m more than women's winner Georgia Hall.

But 2009 British Open winner Matthew, 49, says "it's slowly getting there".

"You are seeing much more [women's] golf on television but there is still a huge gulf between the top men and ladies," Europe's 2019 Solheim Cup captain Matthew, told BBC Sport.

"It's the chicken and the egg and it's whether you need the money coming into the game before the TV coverage, or the other way around," the Scottish golfer added.

"If they could make the US Open and the British Open equal money for men and women, it would probably make other tournaments look at it."

2018 Major'sWinner (earnings)Winner (earnings)
British OpenFrancesco Molinari (£1.49m)Georgia Hall (£386,561)
US OpenBrooks Koepka (£1.7m)Ariya Jutanugarn (£710,000)

However, there have been some events in recent months, such as the year-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge being run by both the LPGA and PGA Tours in the US, that offer equal prize money for men and women.

It sees a designated 'risk and reward' hole at certain events throughout the year, and each player's best two scores on that hole at each event will count towards their running total. The lowest overall score on each individual tour will win $1m (£750,000) in prize money.

"Golf can sometimes be a little dull with the regular 72-hole events week in, week out, but I think mixed events are something different and it is a fun format," said Matthew.

One area where women's golf is leading the way

Feeding her 11-week old daughter at 3am and drinking tea with her mum - that was how Matthew celebrated her maiden British Open victory in 2009.

After becoming the first Scot to win a major, Matthew admits she "could not have done it" without the day care provided on the LPGA tour and her supportive husband and parents.

"My husband caddied for me a lot during my career so he was always travelling," she said.

"My eldest daughter was only two at the time so it was busy but my parents helped and I remember my mum doing the night feed.

"I played in the LPGA tour which did have a maternity policy, and although it has improved, it wasn't too bad.

"They had a day care with two ladies who travelled every week and set up in a hotel room, so while you were out playing, they would set up, be cared for and that was a nice continuity for the kids.

"It was quite forward-thinking for 10 years ago.

"I'm amazed I was able to do it 11 weeks after having my second child.

"I was so calm and put no expectations on myself because it was my second week back after giving birth. I thought top 20 would have been good and I think that relaxed me a bit more."

'It would probably be a bit more of a struggle now'

Fast forward a decade and Matthew has decided to end her 25-year stay on the LPGA Tour, but she will still line up against the best in the world at the 2019 edition of the British Open.

However, the 49-year-old is more reserved about her chances at Woburn Golf Club.

"It would probably be a bit more of a struggle now," she said. "You always hope you are going to play well, and you never know, you might get a hot week with the putter.

"The top Koreans are up there and obviously defending champion Georgia Hall is playing so it will be a tough field."

After the British Open, Matthew will captain Europe for the first time in the Solheim Cup in September - just three weeks after she turns 50 - and the Scot says she is "honoured" to lead the team at Gleneagles in her native country.

"It will be a great way to celebrate my birthday with victory in the Solheim," said Matthew.

"It's an event I have always loved and I have played in it nine times, so to be captain in Scotland is a dream come true, and it's a huge honour."

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