Fifty-year-old Catriona Matthew rolled back the years on Thursday with a superb round of 71 at Royal Troon in the AIG Women’s Open.
Europe's Solheim Cup captain, who won this championship in 2009 at Royal Lytham & St Annes, carded four birdies and four bogeys in a level-par round that left her comfortably inside the top 10 on a day when gusting winds made low scoring difficult.
“I played well, I drove the ball well,” Matthew said. “I don't think I missed a fairway today, which gives you just the opportunity to try and hit the greens.
“Going out was obviously super long, going back out into the wind, and then coming back downwind sometimes isn't that easy, either, it was such a strong wind.”
Matthew, who would become the oldest major champion of all time if she were to win this week, was in control with her long game on Thursday, and credits shot commitment for her accuracy off the tee.
“I think you really had to be committed to your shot. I think the worst thing you can do in the wind is if you're indecisive," she added. "You've really just got to be committed and hit the shot and hope you pull it off.”
While striking the ball well on a links course is nothing new for the classy Scot, who has excelled in tough conditions over her career, Matthew’s technique on the greens this week has been an altogether alien prospect.
“It's quite a radical change,” Matthew said of the new putting grip she has implemented this week. “The grip I'm using now, kind of the saw grip I think is what it is. To be fair, over the years I've tried various different grips, left-hand low, just changing how I hold it generally, but this is quite a radical one.
“I've obviously fiddled about with it in practice and things and never taken it to a tournament, but I thought there was nothing to lose this week.”
Matthew is in close proximity to the leaders after a tough first day. Asked if she wants similar conditions on Friday, the Scot summed up the day aptly.
“You'd be exhausted by Sunday night," said Matthew with a smile. "Hopefully it might improve a little bit.”