Sophie Gustafson, this year's European team MVP (she won all four of her matches and now boasts a career Solheim Cup record of 13-12-6) is 37 years old and has been a regular on the LPGA Tour for 13 years. In that time, she's won five titles and played in eight Solheim Cups, but the public has rarely heard her speak. The reason for this is Gustafson's speech impediment. Last week, in preparation for the Solheim Cup, she sat down in front a Golf Channel camera to talk about the event in her first-ever TV interview:
The interview made waves on Twitter, with fans, journalist and players alike praising Gustafson's courage. Gustafson herself was moved by the positive response. "I heard from a lot of friends who said it was great to see, and that I did a good job," she told Golf Digest Woman via e-mail this week. She also revealed that the idea for the interview came from her, not from the Golf Channel. "I grabbed Val Skinner and asked her to check if we could do something for the Solheim Cup. It's always a bummer during the Solheim Cup because everybody else is doing interviews and press conferences, but no one even bothers asking me if I want to do them anymore. That's why I wanted to try something for this edition. I feel like I have a lot to say and can actually be pretty funny, but it's hard to get it out since I usually keep my mouth shut in public."
Gustafson admits that she was very nervous in front of the camera. "I told Val 'this is worse than actually playing in the Solheim,' even though I was alone in a room with the camera rolling. I probably sat there for an hour talking, answering questions they had written down. Once I'd done a decent job I tried to improve on it. Then the Golf Channel had to cut out the bad stuff." When asked if she'd do it again, Gustafson says, "I'd love to do more of this, but it remains to be seen if anyone out there would be interested in putting in the time. It's hard, because I never think [my stutter] is as bad as it actually is. I guess I should know better by now."
The hardest part of getting ready for any trip, business or pleasure, is figuring out what to pack. I've become so used to traveling to warmer cities that I have the process down to a 15-minute formula of rolling sun-dresses and sandals into a carry-on duffel already pre-packed with my three-ounce face wash and perfume. Travel to colder climates are a different story, however.
This week, I'm taking a golf trip to Nova Scotia. I'll be teeing off at some beautiful golf courses, including Glen Arbour GC, Digby Pines GC and Fox Harb'r Golf Resort & Spa. After spending days trying to wrap my mind around what to pack, I've decided to rely on the one dictum of fashion and style that never fails me: keep my colors neutral and basic (think khaki pants, white polo shirt, navy wind-shirt or just head-to-toe black) and let my golf shoes bring the flair.
So this time, a carry-on won't cut it. Since shoes take up a lot of space, I'll have to bring a suitcase. But who cares when I'll be sporting the jazziest golf shoes out there?
Here are some of my favorites for the fall:
Ecco New Classic City, $180, Visit website
FootJoy LoPro Collection, $110, Visit website
Walter Genuin Greta, $450, Visit website
Callaway Women's Couture Corina, $100, Visit website
Puma Cat Women's Golf Shoe, $75, Visit website
Adidas Natalie Signature, $100, Visit website
Nike Lunar Links Women's Golf Shoe, $120, Visit website
Sandbaggers Deb Almond, $135, Visit website
Equipt For Play Wing Tip, $195, Visit website
"It's just fatigue," Jones said. "It's just too painful. She can't pick up the club." Kerr and Paula Creamer are the only two players on either team to have played all four sessions coming into singles play. In fact, each had played 71 of a possible 72 holes.
The concession by Kerr gave Europe a 9-8 lead. Europe needs 14¿ points to win the Cup and the United States 14 to keep it. "I'm devastated that I couldn't play today to help represent my team," Kerr said. "I tried my best but I couldn't hold the golf club."
According to Jones, Kerr was started on anti-inflammatory drugs Friday night. If Kerr had divulged the injury before the opening ceremony she could have been replaced on the team.
"She was feeling better for the matches," Jones said. "It started Thursday and she was concerned after opening ceremonies. We considered a change Friday morning, but she was fine then. Apparently, Jones felt Kerr was fine enough to play four matches. Kerr had two wins a loss and a halve in those four matches.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- This Solheim Cup feels like one of those baseball games where a team leads the entire way, leaves a lot of runners on base, and then loses in the last inning and regrets squandered opportunities. That the United States is tied 8-8 going into Sunday's singles play has to be an enormous emotional lift for a team that has played from behind all week.
That is not to say Europe doesn't have a chance to win Sunday at Killeen Castle and end a three-match winning streak by the Americans in the Solheim Cup. In fact, more Europeans are playing better than more Americans. They stand a very good chance. But so many opportunities have been wasted, you can't help but think they will be regretted.
When Laura Davies and Melissa Reid closed out Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie in the Saturday afternoon four-ball match 4 and 3 -- making Davies the all-time Solheim Cup points leader -- Europe had an 8-5 lead. But the Americans won the next three matches, the last of which -- Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome over Maria Hjorth and Azahara Munoz -- mirroring the late-round futility that has haunted Europe this week.
1. Play foursomes properly: There is no need for the non-hitter to stroll back to the tee in order to metaphorically "hold the hand" of her partner. Especially on par 4s and par 5s where the choice of club invariably comes down to one of two, the player not driving should head up the fairway and wait for the ball. If things go to plan -- as they tend to do at this level of the game -- the player hitting the drive will walk off the tee and not stop until she reaches the green. Simple. And quick.
2. Ban lining-up: This tedious practice seems to be especially prevalent in the ladies game. Part of golf is being able to align oneself squarely to one's target. If you cannot achieve that on a consistent basis without help from another person, it is not unreasonable to suggest that you should not be playing in a Solheim Cup in the first place.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- Steve McQueen and James Garner were nowhere to be seen, but the United States still managed to pull off the golfing equivalent of the "Great Escape" at Killeen Castle in Ireland. At the end of a seemingly endless opening day marked by a quite disgraceful pace of play that will have done nothing to sell women's professional golf to an already dubious public, Europe, despite dominating much of the proceedings, will carry only a slender one-point lead into the second day of the 12th Solheim Cup.
By way of example, the top afternoon four-ball match between Morgan Pressel/Paula Creamer and Laura Davies/Mel Reid took more than five and a half hours to complete. But even that was outstripped by the bottom game between Suzann Pettersen/Anna Nordqvist and Cristie Kerr/Michelle Wie. That far from sprightly quartet took a mind-numbing five hours and 40 minutes to complete all 18 holes.
Three of the four post-lunch matches, in fact, exceeded the prescribed -- and incredibly generous -- time of five hours and 20 minutes. It wasn't pretty but it was definitely ponderous. A huge factor in the slowness being the much-criticized need of so many players to have their caddies line them up for both full shots and putts. It is surely time for that time-consuming and often-pointless practice to be outlawed.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- At one point deep into the back nine of Friday morning's foursomes session, it appeared as if Europe would go into afternoon four-ball matches leading the United States 3-1 in the Solheim Cup. But when Suzann Pettersen rolled in a birdie putt on No. 18 to give her and partner Sophie Gustafson a 1-up win over Juli Inkster and Brittany Lang, it felt fortunate that Europe managed to eke out a 2-2 tie.
Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid were 2 up against Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome with four holes to play, but lost three of them despite the fact the Americans made only one birdie in that stretch. The Europeans, in fact, shot 41 on the back nine -- and a newspaper 41 at that with a couple of generous concessions -- as the Yanks took Nos. 17 and 18 with pars to win 1 up.
In the other matches, Cristie Kerr, who played near flawless golf, and Michelle Wie, who made several keys putts, won Nos. 16 and 17 as they defeated Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist 2 and 1. Catriona Matthew and Solheim Cup rookie Azahara Munoz never trailed as they handled Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford 3 and 2.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- Team Europe captain Alison Nicholas won her first showdown with American counterpart Rosie Jones when she placed her power duo of Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson out last in the Friday morning foursomes session that kicks off the Solheim Cup. "You usually put them out early," Jones said Thursday with a smile as the pairings were announced. "Strike one."
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
The first alternate-shot match will have Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr taking on Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist at 7:40. They will be followed by Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome against Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid; then Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford will take on Catriona Matthew and Azahara Munoz before the session concludes with Brittany Lang and Juli Inkster going against Pettersen and Gustafson.
Sitting out the morning session for the Americans are No. 10 qualifier Christina Kim, captain's picks Vicky Hurst and Ryann O'Toole and short-hitting Morgan Pressel on a wet and long Killeen Castle course.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- Even the bookmakers on the European side of the pond think the United States will win its fourth consecutive Solheim Cup this week at Killeen Castle. If you have a few extra euros, pounds, dollars or gold bullion to wager, jump on those odds. Based on recent form, the European side is coming into this competition playing better golf than the Americans.
Yes, the U.S. side has won the last three Solheim Cups. Yes, the Yanks have an 8-3 lead overall. And yes, the Americans have seven top-20 players in the Rolex Rankings compared to one for Europe. But here is why the Cup is coming back across the Atlantic to reside until the 2013 competition in at Colorado GC.
• It's a home game. All of Europe's victories have come on friendly soil, winning twice in Scotland and once in Sweden. While they are 0-6 on American soil, they are 3-2 in Europe. And they know the course. Suzann Pettersen won the Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle a few weeks ago with teammates Azahara Munoz and Melissa Reid tied for second. In fact, the entire European team finished in the top 20.
DUNSANY, Ireland -- The 12-strong team representing the golfing subset also known as "American members of the LPGA Tour" will win the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle because, well, they nearly always do.
So far, in fact, Uncle Sam's nieces have a more than 70 percent success rate in their biennial battles with teams of European-born LET members. In comparison with its corresponding old world counterpart across the pond, the LPGA Tour's home contingent is bigger, stronger and better, advantages that have historically and consistently seen the Americans start as favorites and finish victorious.
Sometimes it's just that simple: the team with the most good players wins. And this time round, as so often before, that accolade belongs to the visitors here in Ireland. Yes, the last third of non-playing skipper Rosie Jones' side looks more than a little vulnerable -- a pair of callow rookies, a 51-year old part-time assistant captain and a player who failed to record even one qualifying point in 2011 -- but the potency of the leading eight more than makes up for any perceived weakness down the order.