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Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, who once picked up trash at a men’s British Open at Muirfield, now set to hit historic first tee shot

Catriona Matthew will hit the first tee shot at the 2022 AIG Women’s British Open at Muirfield at 6:30 am local time. The historic moment fully belongs to Matthew, who grew up on the Wee Course at nearby North Berwick Golf Club, where she still lives with her husband and their two daughters, Katie and Sophie.

Matthew understands better than most what it means for the best women in the world to finally compete at Muirfield, site of 16 men’s British Opens. She volunteered at several of those championships growing up, picking up trash the first time.

“I think probably one of the first times I remember I was a litter picker for one of The Opens here,” she said, “and then I was actually a scorer a couple of times.”

Matthew, of course, grew up to win the 2009 Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter. Her most recent claim to fame: Becoming the first captain to lead Europe to back-to-back Solheim Cup victories.

She’s a legend in East Lothian, with North Berwick recently reopening a clubhouse lounge in her name.

“For me personally, obviously living along the road and growing up along the road,” she said, “I never would have imagined them ever playing a major so close to home.”

Matthew, 52, is a four-time winner on the LPGA but hasn’t played a full schedule on that tour in several years. While she joked about the challenge of getting her kids up early enough to make it to the first tee on Thursday, the meaning of the moment will be front and center for the woman many call “super mum.”

A general view of the 18th hole at The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers Muirfield the venue for the 2013 Open Championship on August 30, in Gullane, Lothian, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

It was only three years ago that the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers invited its first female members in 275 years. Matthew said she has a couple of female friends who are members.

The club was actually removed from the R&A’s list of British Open host venues after a 2016 membership vote failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to change the rule to admit women.

They voted again in 2017 and pushed it through.

This year’s AIG champion will join a list of 16 men who have won an Open at Muirfield, including the likes of Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.

“I think you just have to look forward rather than look backward,” said Matthew.

“Golf, starting in Scotland, we had a lot more traditions perhaps; that we’re just gradually moving with the times.”

The Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup

Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew is hoisted onto her players shoulders to celebrate her teams win during the final day singles matches of the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles on September 15, 2019 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

As for the golf, Matthew said stronger winds than are forecast would play to his advantage. Players will need to take advantage of scoring on the front nine, she said, and then hang on coming in. The par 3s, she noted, are particularly tough with no bail-out areas.

“It’s very fair, actually,” she said. “It’s not one of these ones where if you hit a shot down the middle of the fairway, you’re still watching it thinking, ‘Oh, is it going to kick into a bunker.’

“I think here, if you hit a good shot you’re going to stay on the fairway and you’re going to stay on the green. I think in that respect, it’s probably quite fair.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek