Natalie Gulbis is the field this week for the CME Group Titleholders in Orlando and is making her first visit to the Morning Drive Studios. The format of the Tour Championship has changed a few times over the past few years and this year, the LPGA got to Mexico and there were only three players in the 36 player field who were not qualified for this week and she was one of them. It was extra special to earn a place in the field last week so she could earn a spot this week. The format has allowed every notable player of the year to be a part of the event or at least be eligible to be a part of it.
Lexi Thompson earned a place in the field with a win this week before she was even a member of the LPGA Tour. Gulbis has spent a lot of time with Lexi and having joined the LPGA Tour herself at the age of 18, she has been able to advise the 16-year-old Lexi by telling her about all of the various obligations involved at an event every week. She has been incredibly open to advice and has been a fast learner. Everyone knew that Lexi would eventually be a member of the LPGA Tour so everyone is very welcoming of her ascension this year and are excited to have her as a member starting in 2012.
The 2011 season has been very frustrating because she has been healthy yet she has not played well at all. It really hurt to not be a part of the Solheim Cup in Ireland but being able to be a part of this event in Orlando is a great way to close a difficult year.
Team events are the best kind of events on tour and although there are some details about the Olympic style event to be announced, she is excited about this event in 2012 because the team events are so much fun and Rich Harvest Farms is a great course. Anytime you can have a team event with different formats, it is good for their tour and something that she wants to be a part of. Natalie then commented on Erik’s observation that her fingernail polish matches the color of her jacket with a laugh and an admission that she knew what she wanted to wear to the studio so she prepared for it.
The LPGA Tour Schedule for 2012 is being released today and she has seen the first 6 events and is very excited that Royal Melbourne will be the site of the first event of the year. Events in Thailand and Singapore will follow before a break and then the beginning of their U.S. schedule.
The HSBC Women’s Champions event in Singapore is an unbelievable event because of HSBC’s treatment of the players and the excitement of the fans. The LPGA Tour is so popular in Asia that there are large billboards promoting the events.
She enjoys that the Presidents Cup has a format that requires every member of both teams to play in almost every match. Anytime that you can test the full strength of a team in a competition like this is great for the event. If she could pick a U.S. team, she would put Nick Watney and Bill Haas together because they are both consistent, solid players with complete games. When she looks at the U.S. and International teams for this year’s Presidents Cup, she predicts that the U.S. will win. You can look at the stats and the rankings all you want, but when you have the drive to win those other details matter less and she thinks that the U.S. team is motivated to win in Australia especially considering the fact that the only loss that the U.S. has had in this competition to the International team came in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.