As a nod to our corporate brethren at USA Today, “check out this story”:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/lpga/2007-05-21-gulbis-focus_N.htm by Steve DiMeglio on a day in the life of Natalie Gulbis.
DiMeglio shadowed Gulbis for a day last week at the Sybase Classic, and the result is a worthwhile window into the life of one of the LPGA’s most popular players — whether she is deserving of that title or not.
The book on Gulbis is that she is a vastly talented player and a surprisingly insightful quote. And yet seeing how she’s still in search of her first win, there’s no question that most of the attention she receives is directly related to her looks. Trust me, if I didn’t cover golf for a living and didn’t have to maintain at least the facade of professionalism, I might be one of those fans ogling at Gulbis from behind the ropes (although my wife might have something to say about that). And yet as someone who is supposed to look at the game from a larger perspective, you can’t help but wonder if Gulbis’ prominence doesn’t undermine what the tour really wants to be about.
Put it another way: last week at Sybase, you had the game’s No. 1 player, Lorena Ochoa. You had the winner of the season’s first major, Morgan Pressel, and you had Meaghan Francella, a rising star in her own right who was raised down the road in Port Chester. And yet who had the largest gallery the first two days? You guessed it: the world’s 31st ranked player, Natalie Gulbis (in fairness, Gulbis was also playing with Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak, but an informal poll of fans revealed most were there for Gulbis).
This isn’t anyone fault, necessarily. You can’t blame Gulbis for looking like she does, and I don’t think you can even blame fans for plunking down their money and following whomever they choose.
But until she wins a tournament, for some reason it strikes me as slightly creepy.