A three-time winner on the LPGA tour, Sophie Gustafson, 28, has often had trouble completing a sentence in press-conference settings. During the off-season the Swede spent three weeks at the Hollins Communications Research Institute in Roanoke, Va., learning to talk again.
SI: Why now, after all these years?
SG: I didn't know that the institute existed. They contacted the LPGA tour, and the timing was right since we didn't have any tournaments in January. I thought that if I didn't go then, I probably never would, so I gave it a chance.
SI: Tell us about the program.
SG: You're there for nearly three weeks and work with a therapist eight to 10 hours a day. You have the middle weekend off to go out in the real world and practice the techniques you have learned.
SI: Such as?
SG: We practiced exaggerating syllables and manipulating muscle movement in the tongue, lips and jaw. We also worked with the vocal cords and doing different breathing patterns. I still have to practice a lot, but the more I use the drills, the easier it gets.
SI: How long have you stuttered?
SG: Since I started talking.
SI: What is the feeling when you know what you want to say but the words won't come out?