LPGA's centrefold: Natalie Gulbis

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May 7, 2005. 09:24 AM

LPGA's centrefold

Californian Natalie Gulbis heats up fairways with her looks Golf's answer to tennis's Anna Kournikova, by Jim Byers

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.?Natalie Gulbis lines up a two-foot putt on the practice green at the Kingsmill Resort Course and drains it. She backs up two feet and makes another. She retreats another two feet to six feet from the cup and slides her putt wide left.

She scrunches up her face for a split second, then glances toward the ground and notices a smudge of light brown dirt on her sun-polished, golden legs. She wets her fingers in her mouth, then reaches down and wipes the offending marks away.

It's important to putt well on the LPGA Tour. It's also important, for some, to look good.

There are a couple of dozen women players on the practice green two days before the Michelob Ultra tourney in Virginia. But Gulbis is the only one who has a telephoto lens charting her every grimace and bright smile.

Wearing a short maroon skirt and a white and maroon-striped golf shirt, Gulbis has a TaylorMade cap in the same shade and matching ribbons in her hair, which she wears in a perfectly-braided ponytail. Her makeup is immaculate and her dangly earrings look perfect for a 22-year-old California blonde.

Gulbis isn't the only glamour girl on the women's golf circuit. Her friend Cristie Kerr, who has appeared on The Apprentice with high-roller Donald Trump, is arguably just as attractive. Grace Park might be the most elegant athlete you'll ever see. But Gulbis is the one who has taken her looks to a whole new level, publishing a calendar that features her in skimpy swim attire or working out.

She also stars in a Golf Channel reality show that charts the ins and outs of her relationship with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and her improving if still winless golf game.

Gulbis was in full rain gear yesterday after play was called off because of rain. But on Thursday, in cool and windy conditions that had most of the women bundled from head to toe, Gulbis strolled the course in a powder blue short skirt and matching top. You could almost see the goose bumps from 50 yards away, but it didn't stop her from patiently signing autographs for all the 30 or 40 people who lined her path to the clubhouse.

"I'll take the autograph but I'd rather have a hug," said one overly amorous admirer.

There have been whispers that some of her fellow pros resent the attention being lavished on Gulbis or more accurately, the attention she's sought. Gulbis looked incredulous when asked if she's faced any resentment.

"Not even close," she told the Star. "They all ask me, `When do I get to come on your show?'"

"You know what I love about Natalie is that she's a little sponge," said Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones. "She's a good kid. I think she's great for our tour."

As for her other interests, she says she collects swans and white tigers, listens to everything from Creed and U2 to Jimi Hendrix, loves swap meets and reads everything from John Grisham to Herman Hess.

Gulbis has said she's flattered to be compared with tennis player Anna Kournikova, the website download queen who never won a big tournament.

"She's very beautiful and very successful," Gulbis said of Kournikova. "It's always nice to be compared to someone who is so attractive."

Gulbis is hoping to soon be known for being more than the Paris Hilton of the LPGA. So far this year, she's 15th on the money list and has two top-10 finishes.

Meantime, Gulbis isn't apologizing for her marketing savvy.

"I'm just trying to show that players can be attractive and athletic and good and have personality," she said. "I market myself hard and I've been very successful in my endorsements and work very hard on my golf game.

"So I really don't have a whole lot to be ashamed of."



The 22-year-old Natalie Gulbis always look resplendent on the links, but she?s still searching for her first win on LPGA Tour.
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needs registration just to read goddamn newws.. nypost and other ... are being.. such a b1tch .


I posted the entire article. The link was for credit and verificiation purposes only. It is, however, a free registration (and they take Hotmail-type addresses).

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