Natalie Gulbis Makes Waves On, Off Course

There’s more to California girl Natalie Gulbis than a hot golf swing.

Natalie Gulbis 2006 CalendarThe LPGA is taking a breather this week and so is Natalie Gulbis. In Las Vegas Natalie has a chance to visit Butch Harmon for a lesson, return phone calls and focus on her next business venture. Her 2006 swimsuit calendar has just been released and her reality show on the Golf Channel will be resuming in November. You can even play golf with “Cyber-Natalie” as part of Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour 2005!

Natalie gets alot of face time in the press. It’s understandable once you catch a glimpse of her. With her sense of style, athletic 5′ 9″ figure and bright, toothy smile, cameras click, interviewers hound her and a bevy of admirers follow her around on and off the golf course. She is both personable and mature but with an edginess only a twenty-two year old can pull off.

Natalie represents the future of the LPGA to a tee!

Sorenstam, Creamer and Wie Battle at Bighorn

The limited field Samsung World Championship brings together the top LPGA money earners as well as 16-year old Michelle Wie for her first professional tournament.

samsung_world_championship_logo.jpgBoth Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer may have to wave big flags or knock down photographers just to get some of the attention that will be showered upon Michelle Wie as she competes in her first tournament since turning professional this past week.

Perrot Perseveres at Longs Drugs Challenge

Nicole Perrot is yet another first-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year taking home the trophy at the Longs Drugs Challenge.

A one-stroke victory over South Korean Hee-Won Han was all Nicole Perrot needed yesterday to secure her first win on the LPGA Tour. Nerves were rattling as the three-stroke lead Perrot had heading into the final round swiftly faded with multiple bogeys on the front nine of the 6,204-yard Ridge Golf Course.

As Perrot’s lead was slipping Han threw out birdies on holes five, six and seven showing the 21-year-old Chilean that she was ready for a good challenge. But golf is an unusual game. You can’t tell who the winner will be until the final putt rolls into the 18th hole. So goes the story of Perrot and Han. After her early back-to-back birdies Han recorded pars on her final eleven holes. Perrot battled back with three final birdies, enough to stop last week’s Office Depot winner from claiming a victory just one week after securing the trophy at the Office Depot Champioonship.

Longs Drugs Challenge Preview

Christina Kim defends her Longs Drugs trophy at the last full field event of 2005.

LPGAI’m feeling a bit depressed as I write this. I can’t believe that the Longs Drugs Challenge is the final full field event of the 2005 season. I must admit I have had a great time covering the LPGA events in stark contrast to my comments in a previous column so I’m now sitting here eating my words.

This tournament will undoubtedly cheer me up as the defending champion is none other than the very colorful and always outspoken Christina Kim. Last year Christina snatched victory from veteran Karrie Webb. This year Kim has yet to win and although Karrie won an early tournament she has since faded into the middle of the pack.

The Longs Drug Challenge is a 6,235-yard 72-hole event originated in 1996 and carries a respectable $1 million purse. It will be interesting to see if Kim can defend her title against another stellar field of 144 golfers on the beautiful Ridge Golf Course while keeping her composure. Nah! I would rather watch Kim dress in her funky clothes and act just like she is…a charming 21-year-old LPGA rookie!

Han Wins Office Depot Despite Delays

Hee-Won Han shrugs off inclement weather to win her first tournament since 2004 at the Office Depot Championship.

hee_won_han_office_depot.jpgWeather delays wreaked havoc at the Office Depot Championship this past weekend. The ladies never completed a solid round of golf due to a dense fog which covered the deluxe Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes. After waiting for over three hours before play resumed darkness then covered the course forcing the ladies to complete this 54-hole tournament on Monday.

Tensions were mounting as most of the rounds were played piecemeal. Mother Nature and slow play dealt “the Donald” a one-two punch at his new golf courses’ inaugural LPGA event. Hee-Won Han was in the lead by a single stroke with only ten holes left to play heading into the conclusion of a very long three-day tournament. But Han was relaxed and ready as she started her day with two birdies in a row on her way to a two-stroke, wire-to-wire triumph over the rest of the field.

Sorenstam takes the Trump Challenge

Annika Sorenstam returns to defend her Office Depot Championship title against the top 144 golfers on the LPGA tour.

office_depot_logo.jpg“The Donald” will be unveiling his spectacular golf facility this week as he welcomes the LPGA to Trump National Golf CLub Los Angeles for the Office Depot Championship.

Annika Sorenstam is back in the spotlight for another title defense and perhaps to win a share of the $1.3 million dollar purse. The good news is that Sorenstam has won this event on three occasions and has also been victorious defending her trophies in three out of four events this year.

Brittany Lang Takes Top Honors at Q-School Qualifier

Brittany Lang receives top score in Q-School qualifier. Morgan Pressel also moves on to finals.

brittany_lang_qschool.jpgGolfers from the Robe Di Kappa European Tour, Futures Tour, and amateurs were all thrown into the mix this past week to try and move one step closer to a professional career on the venerable LPGA Tour.

My two picks, Morgan Pressel and Ai Miyazato, both moved on to the finals but it was Brittany Lang who shook things up and received medalist honors. Lang turned professional just this year after tying for second place with Pressel at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open in June. In July Brittany tied for sixth place at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open.

With a history deeply embedded in college golf and with her confidence on the rise I expect to see Brittany Lang’s name on the 2006 LPGA roster.

Pack Your Lunchboxes. Q-School has Begun!

The first of two Q-School sectional qualifiers begins today for upcoming LPGA superstars.

LPGAIt’s finally here. It’s the moment that Morgan Pressel has been waiting for since first qualifying for the 2001 U.S. Women’s Open at the tender age of 12 years old. Only five years later it’s time to qualify for the LPGA Tour!

Morgan will be among a field of 193 golfers vying for the chance to win the sectional qualifier which will eventually catapult her into the Professional Ladies Golf Association. It’s Morgan’s tournament to win or lose and I think she’s got a good chance of winding up on top.

On the tenth tee of the “Dinah” course at 7:37 am this morning unknowns Julie Turner and Ria Quiazon knew what it felt like to be in the spotlight as they teed off with an amateur who has already played and almost won on the LPGA tour this year. At only seventeen Morgan Pressel has already had a solid year’s worth of experience both on the amateur circuit winning the 105th U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament and on the professional circuit with a near victory at the U.S. Women’s Open. A spectacular sand save by Birdie Kim stopped Morgan from achieving her first win on the LPGA tour before taking her lumps at Q-School.

Sorenstam Successful at Hammons Hotel Classic

Annika Sorenstam holds on to her lead and successfully defends her trophy at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic.

annika_sorenstam_trophy_hammonds.jpgIn the battle of the LPGA titans Annika Sorenstam takes the trophy this week. When Annika is in the lead heading into the final round of a tournament those that follow her should be ready to make a darn good challenge. Although Maria Hjorth took the lead in first round action with a 64 she still needed the ability to rally for two more days. Unfortunately she couldn’t put together the two good rounds necessary to keep Sorenstam from cozying up to the top spot on the leaderboard in second round action.

By the final round of the 54-hole tournament it was all Annika, even though rookie Paula Creamer rallied from a tie for fifth place climbing to second place on the scoreboard. Sorenstam held on with a 2-over par 73 while Creamer came on strong with a 2-under 69 to nearly grab the tournament from the number-one LPGA golfer in the world. In the end however, Annika prevailed.