Solheim Cup captain and former Women’s Open champion Catriona Matthew is “absolutely thrilled” to have been made an honorary member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
The Scot was one of four new honorary members announced yesterday by the club, along with three former men’s Open champions Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Nick Price.
They join a distinguished list of professionals and renowned amateur players to become honorary members at the R&A, including most of the distinguished names of the game in the last 200 years.
Matthew, 51, won the R&A-sanctioned Women’s British Open in 2009, among 11 professional victories and nine Solheim Cup appearances for Europe, culminating in her captaincy of the European team to victory at Gleneagles last year.
She previously had an outstanding amateur career, winning the British Amateur, the Scottish Amateur three times and representing Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup on three occasions.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be made an Honorary Member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and I feel very privileged to be joining such an illustrious group of Honorary Members who are such renowned figures in the game of golf,” she said.
“I was fortunate enough to be one of the first recipients of an R&A Scholarship at the University of Stirling and it gave me some fantastic opportunities to develop my career as a young golfer.
“The Club and The R&A do so much to grow the game and I’m hugely supportive of the work they are doing to support women’s golf and particularly the AIG Women’s Open.”
Matthew is the tenth female to be awarded honorary membership of the R&A. Annika Sorenstam and Dame Laura Davies were among the first women entrants to the club as honourees in 2015.
Els, also now 51, is a two-time winner of the Open Championship ten years apart, at Muirfield in 2002 and then at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2012. The winner of over 70 titles worldwide and also twice a winner of the US Open, Els is a familiar figure at St Andrews due to his annual visits during the Dunhill Cup and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship tournaments.
Harrington won the Open Championship in successive years at Carnoustie in 2007 and Royal Birkdale in 2008, and has been a long-time ambassador for the R&A. Before his successful professional career including 31 victories, the Irishman was also a stalwart of the amateur game, playing three times in the Walker Cup. He won the PGA Championship in 2008 for his third major title, and will be captain of Europe in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits next year.
Nick Price was Open champion at Turnberry in 1994 and a runner-up on two other occasions. The Zimbabwean also won two PGA Championships in an illustrious career where he won 48 titles around the world and was World No 1 for 40 weeks in total.
Clive Edrington, captain of the R&A, said “I would like to congratulate Catriona, Ernie, Padraig and Nick on becoming Honorary Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club.
“They have each distinguished themselves with their long and hugely successful careers in golf. As well as being great champions, they are superb role models for any young golfers to follow and embody so many of the qualities which make golf such a special sport.
“They have done a great deal to help promote golf around the world and this recognition is extremely well deserved.”