By Tony Jimenez
LONDON (Reuters) - Catriona Matthew wants to bring the curtain down on a stellar career that has yielded earnings of more than $9 million by captaining Europe's Solheim Cup team in her native Scotland in 2019, she told Reuters.
The Scottish veteran was a playing member of the side beaten by the United States in the women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup last season and wants to help exact revenge by winning a place back in the team under skipper Annika Sorenstam next year.
Beyond that, Matthew would like nothing better than to lead Europe when the biennial team event is played at Gleneagles two years later.
"I'll certainly put my name into the hat for Scotland," the 46-year-old told Reuters in an interview held at Woburn, venue of the Ricoh Women's British Open from July 28-31.
"To be captain in my own country would be a dream come true. I've loved the Solheim Cup, it's been the highlight of my career."
Matthew has made eight appearances in the biennial event between 1998 and 2015, emerging on the winning side three times.
The Scot has won four times on the LPGA Tour, including the British Open in 2009, and has a total of 10 victories on the Ladies European Tour.
Matthew has no plans to retire just yet and takes heart from the fact long-time Solheim Cup team mate Laura Davies is still playing at the age of 52 and that U.S. captain Juli Inkster remains an LPGA Tour campaigner at 55.
She also watched on television as 58-year-old German Bernhard Langer launched a brief title charge at the U.S. Masters earlier this month.
"At the moment I'm taking every year as it comes," she said. "If I'm still playing well and enjoying it I'll just keep going.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
"Laura is still playing, she's older than me, Juli is still playing and look at Bernhard at the Masters. That's the beauty of golf, it's one of the few sports ... where teenagers can compete with 40-year-olds on a level playing field."
Matthew believes it is possible for the first 50-plus player to one day win a major championship.
"I think it could happen. We had Tom Watson at Turnberry going very close and Greg Norman," she said, referring to the British Open near-misses by the American in 2009 and by the Australian at Royal Birkdale a year earlier.
"It's been close, you just never know. Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he won (the Masters)."
Matthew missed the thrilling climax of this month's Masters at Augusta National after dozing off in front of the television with American Jordan Spieth seemingly on the verge of a runaway victory before suffering a startling collapse.
"I must admit I fell asleep when Spieth got to about the 11th," she explained. "I thought it wasn't going to be too exciting.
"But I watched the highlights the next day and it was fantastic to see Danny Willett win."
England's Willett captured the coveted Green Jacket after defending champion Spieth dropped six strokes in three holes from the 10th.
Several pundits have suggested Spieth may never be the same again but Matthew sees the situation differently.
"Rory (McIlroy) was in that situation," she said of the Northern Irishman's final-round collapse at the 2011 Masters.
"Everyone in top-flight sport has been there and done that. Rory went out and won (the U.S. Open) straight after.
"Hopefully he (Spieth) can learn from it. I think it's too early to be saying that."
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)