Day 7 Gulbis Earns First Tour Title

By December 20, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's note; In the holiday spirit, the Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 7
Day 7So young, so rich, so talented and, of course, so beautiful. And yet, so unfulfilled. That was LPGA Tour star Natalie Gulbis in a nutshell somewhere around late July as she flew to Paris to take part in the Evian Masters.
On tour for 5-plus years, the 24-year-old Gulbis seemingly had it all ' her own TV show on the GOLF CHANNEL; close to $3 million in career earnings; endorsement deals from countless companies that totaled in the millions; a wildly successful calendar that often times showed off her near-flawless physique; and TV commercials where she starred alongside the likes of John Daly, Butch Harmon, Lee Trevino and David Feherty.
Natalie Gulbis
Natalie Gulbis donned the American flag and shed those Kournikova comparisons. (Getty Images)
And, unfortunately for her, a growing comparison to Anna Kournikova ' she of tennis fame, who the media mercilessly ridiculed for being all flash and no substance. They pointed to the fact that Russian tennis star never won a singles titles in her sport, yet still was the top earner in endorsements off the court.
And the same was now being said of Gulbis ' sure shes beautiful and pretty, but what has she won? And the simple fact of the matter was she hadnt won anything.
Once before, almost a year to the date in fact, Gulbis had let her best-ever opportunity slip away when she lost in a three-hole playoff to Mi Hyun Kim at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. Following that loss, the usually upbeat Gulbis said of still being denied a trip to the winners circle, It sucks. It's not good. It's very difficult.
The first half of 2007 certainly didnt point to her breaking that winless slump as a back injury forced Gulbis to put away her clubs for an extended period and in the process dropped her way down the tours money list.
I was kind of thinking this might be a blessing in disguise with the injury, and I kept working on it and working on my posture and I kept hitting it further and all the things I wanted to happen on my golf swing started happening, said Gulbis.
A blessing in disguise no doubt, as she then made her way across the Atlantic to Paris.
Never a top-20 showing in her three previous trips to the Evian Masters, Gulbis got off to another auspicious start with an even-par 72 on the opening day. She got back into the mix with a second-round 69 and then trailed leader Juli Inkster by four as they headed into Sundays final round.
With three front-nine birdies and Inkster faltering, Gulbis found herself amongst the leaders and must have felt the pressure as she went 1 over par for her final nine holes. She then went to the range to keep warm in case she managed to make it into a playoff.
When Jeong Jang closed with three birdies on her last four holes she joined Gulbis at 4 under and off they went into sudden-death.
Before the playoff I was very upset at myself because I felt like I had given away this tournament, recalled Gulbis. Going in today I never thought that 4 under would have won this tournament. Cristie Kerr and Greg, my caddie, were there. And they kept saying, No, no. You could be in a playoff. You need to get over the fact that you're so pissed off and go and practice.
They were really good. It's amazing the people that support you right when you need them.
With her support in tow, and perhaps sensing something in the Parisian air, Gulbis made quick work of the playoff by hitting her second shot onto the putting surface at the 467-yard, par-5 18th. That's usually a par 5 that I cannot reach in two.
Meanwhile, Jang could not get up and down from off the green and had to settle for a par.
Now all that was facing the 24-year-old Gulbis for a chance to finally visit the winners circle, and at the same time shed that 800 lb. gorilla off her back, was an ever-so-simple tap in from about a foot.
As the putt dropped her arms raised high into the sky. All that hard work, all the doubt, all the critics answered. And ironically it came on something so simple as a tap-in putt.
But, of course, things are never that simple.
What does it mean? How long do you have? This is my sixth year on tour, and obviously the U.S. has been quite a bit of hype on if I would ever win a tournament, stated the freshly minted champion, who was doused with ' what else? ' Champagne after her victory. (Ive) just tried to stay positive, so that means a lot, that the hard work has paid off. So many great people supporting me in the U.S. from the media to my team to my fans. It's great.
One could only wonder if somewhere, someone whispered into Anna Kournikovas ear, Natalie has left the building.
Related Links:
  • Natalie Photo Gallery
  • Gulbis Earns First LPGA Tour Victory
  • Golf Central Special: Gulbis No Kournikova
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown
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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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    Webb granted U.S. Women's Open special exemption

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

    Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

    The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

    "As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

    Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

    Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.

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    Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

    But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

    Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

    That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

    A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

    “Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

    “And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

    “So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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    McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

    After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

    McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

    Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

    8/1: Tiger Woods

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

    16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

    18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

    25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Alex Noren

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

    80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

    100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner