Sweden's Sophie Gustafson has been voted the 'Players' Player of
Year' for 2000 by her fellow professionals on the Evian Ladies European
The popular Swede, who was recipient of the same award back in 1998,
emerged as the clear winner following a season that saw her win
on both sides of the Atlantic before playing a key role in Europe's
gripping Solheim Cup triumph.
"It's a great honour for me to be the players' choice once
again," said Gustafson, who has continued her rich vein of
form this season by already winning the 2001 Subaru Memorial of
Naples in Florida in early January.
"It's really nice to know that I'm liked and appreciated for
what I managed to achieve in Europe last season."
Having secured her maiden title on the LPGA Tour at the Chick-fil-A
Charity Championship, Gustafson returned to Europe with her game
in superb shape and went on to win three times on the Evian Tour.
A comfortable triumph in the Ladies Italian Open was followed by
a come-from-behind win in the Waterford Crystal Ladies Irish Open,
before she posted the biggest individual success of her career at
the Weetabix Women's
British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Less than a month later, the 27-year-old from Saro partnered compatriot
Carin Koch to victory in the inaugural TSN Ladies World Cup Golf
at Adare Manor in Ireland.
Gustafson puts her success down to greater experience, an improved
frame of mind and the comfortable working relationship developed
with her American caddie Chuck Hoersch, who took over her bag early
"I guess a lot of it had to do with the fact that I just started
to feel more comfortable out there on the LPGA," said Gustafson,
who currently lies
second to Karrie Webb on the US moneylist.
"During my first couple of years in America it was all so new
to me and I didn't really know how to do everything. But you learn
quickly, and when I started to feel more comfortable I started playing
"This then gave me the confidence to play well in Europe. I
started with a new caddie in March and this has proven to be very
successful as well. We get on well together which I think is an
But it was Europe's historic win in The Solheim Cup that gave Gustafson
most pleasure. The fact that she chose a team success over any of
her individual triumphs - as most of the European team would do
- speaks volumes for her character and perhaps helps to account
for Europe's success.
"The Solheim Cup was easily the highlight for me in 2000,"
added Gustafson, an easy-going character popular with fellow pros
and officials alike.
"There is no question about it. There is something special
playing for a team because golf is usually such an individual sport.
And when that team
wins it makes it even more enjoyable.
sinks the winning putt at the 2000 Weetabix Women's Open.
"I didn't really have any specific goals at the start of the
2000 season, but nor did I think I would accomplish what I did.
The Solheim victory was
the icing on the cake."
As for the year ahead, Gustafson is focused on adding a greater
degree of consistency to her game, which she hopes will allow her
to reach the very pinnacle of women's golf.
"The key for me is to be more consistent," she explained.
"If I'm in the hunt I want to finish in at least the top-10
or top-15 - all the time.
That's what the top players seem to manage and that's what it takes
to be the very best."
Having finished top of the Evian Order of Merit and official Evian
moneylist in 2000, Gustafson will be hard pressed to match her achievements
of last season.
These have already been recognised by the Association of Swedish
Golf Writers who voted her Swedish Player of the Year for 2000 ahead
of compatriots such as Annika Sorenstam and Jesper Parnevik. But,
with a victory under her belt already this year, she's in good shape
continue her reign as European number one and few would bet against
her continuing her rise to the top of the women's game.