The Golf Blog’s exclusive interview with Natalie Gulbis, Part 1.
The Golf Blog: You are only 22 years old, but are having a breakthrough year: Top 10 in money, 4 top 10 finishes, including a tied for 3rd at the Michelob Open. What’s the main reason for your success this year?
Natalie: I have worked hard to improve my consistency in my driving, irons, short game, and putting. Trying to work on cutting down my mistakes.
The Golf Blog: Your swing has already received much attention, but your putting style is also different. You use a standard length putter with a long grip, and separate your hands on the grip. We’ve heard it called as the “hammy” putting style. Can you explain your putting style and why you switched?
Natalie: It is called the hammy and it is a split grip putting style. Very similar to a hockey stance, my feet being very open. For me it takes my hands out of my putting stroke.
The Golf Blog: You recently played with Annika Sorenstam at the Michelob Open. While your friend Cristie Kerr won the tournament, Annika’s been having another spectacular year. What did you learn from playing with Annika? Do you think she has an “intimidation factor” on tour similar to the kind Tiger Woods did when he was blowing away the field in 2000 and 2001?
Natalie: I played with Annika today. I love being paired with her. She does not make many mental mistakes, and she has the ability to repeat her swing over and over and wears people down.
The Golf Blog: Do you have advice for teenagers who are hoping to make it one day on tour? Should they focus on learning how to win and dominate at the junior level as Tiger Woods did, or should they test out pro tournaments early in their careers if they have the talent and opportunity, as Michelle Wie appears to be doing?
Natalie: My advice for Jr. players would be to play as much competitive golf as they can. I really learn a lot from testing my game during competition and having the opportunity to compare my game and stats to other players. As far as what path to take, it’s all over the board. I stopped playing in Jr. events when I was 12 and played women’s. It’s whatever is good for you.
[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]
Natalie Gulbis – The Golf Blog interview, part 2