The 2011 Solheim Cup will be remembered for many things: the drama, the weather, the injuries, the most nerve-wracking finish in Cup history. But for fans of the LPGA Tour who watched on TV, one of the most poignant moments of the week -- some might say of the whole season -- came in the form of a taped studio interview that aired as a filler between matches and during weather delays.
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."
*--Stina Sternberg *