Sports Outside the Beltway

Natalie Gulbis- Is she golf’s Anna Kournikova?

Michael Arkush at Yahoo sports writes-

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – Natalie Gulbis seems to have it all. She has appeared in her own reality series on The Golf Channel, posed for a calendar and made more than $2.5 million since joining the LPGA Tour in 2002. Yep, Gulbis has it all – well, except that she never has won a professional golf tournament.

Mind you, she has come close. Last year, she lost a playoff at Jamie Farr’s event in Ohio to Mi Hyun Kim. She easily could have won it. The year before, she finished third twice. Still, no Ws in 144 starts.

It’s one thing to be without a major, another to be without a victory. That sounds a lot like Anna Kournikova. Yet Gulbis is no Kournikova. She will win out here. It won’t be this week – she ended Saturday tied for 35th at 5 over par – and it may not be soon. She is suffering from a disk problem that caused her to withdraw from two tournaments and miss another in the last month. If this weren’t the U.S. Women’s Open, there is no way she would be here. She is playing with pain.

What I said with Michelle Wie and her wrist injury, applies to Natalie also or any golfer. If injured, rest is required. Trying to play while hurt is not going to have good results and make the healing process taken even longer.

Arkush is the first golf writer I know of to make the Natalie Gulbis-Anna Kournikova analogy.(Some made the analogy between Michelle Wie and Anna of late. Wiesy doesn’t match up. That’s all I say) I did it almost a year ago after Natalie’s playoff loss to Mi Hyun Kim in Toledo. The golf media is mistaking Natalie’s physical talents for her talent on the golf course. Natalie can play, but she’ll never be a superstar golfer.

So why hasn’t she won yet? She blames it on driving accuracy, and the numbers support her. Since turning pro, she never has finished in the top 50 of that crucial category. This season, entering the Open, she stood at 49th, hitting 71 percent of her fairways. That’s not nearly good enough.

Gulbis needs to get that figure up to about 73 or 74 percent. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. She’s working on it, spending as much as possible when she’s home in Las Vegas with her coach, Butch Harmon. They also talk when she’s on the road.

Some have speculated that Gulbis has allowed herself to be too distracted with the TV show and the calendar and all the other glamour stuff. Not true, she indicated. All the glamour stuff happens in the offseason. The game is what she focuses on during the season.

Gulbis has been dedicated for years. In 1997, at age 14, she became the youngest player (at the time) to Monday-qualify for an LPGA event. She won four tournaments in her freshman year at the University of Arizona and later qualified for the tour on her first try. She knew what she wanted and went after it.

Her first three years were solid, if not spectacular, finishing each time about 40th on the money list. Then, in 2005, she had what appeared to be her breakthrough season, finishing sixth with more than $1 million in earnings. She recorded an impressive 12 top-10s in 27 starts and was a member of the Solheim Cup team. Last year, she ranked 16th on the money list. Those are not Kournikova stats.


Yet she is only 24. There is time.

Yes there is time, and I’m predicting Natalie will win on the LPGA Tour eventually and multiple times. You have to remember, with the constant influx of South Korean talent, Natalie’s first win is not going to come easily. There is plenty of good players who have yet to find their way to the LPGA. I and Mr. Arkush could be wrong too. There have been a long line of not miss golfers in PGA and LPGA history. Who is to say Natalie Gulbis won’t be another.

Maybe the golf MSM will give us a break from their Natalie hype till that win is acheived. I’m betting otherwise. These guys thinking and writing when not full of factual errors, is too often driven by their male egos.

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The article states that natalie is playing in pain and there is no way she would have played last weeks us open if it were not the open. then
why did she play in the charity event prior to the open.

Posted by kevin | July 5, 2007 | 03:41 pm | Permalink

What say you now, Mr. Jempty?

Posted by Ed | August 1, 2007 | 09:17 am | Permalink

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