(DUBAI, November 14)
Gulbis, who will make her first appearance in the Middle East, will join Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies among others in a strong field with a major feel and a euro 500,000 purse up for grabs. The event is being promoted and organised by golf in DUBAI.
The attractive 24-year old Californian has become a corporate world dream girl in recent years, and is currently among the highest paid female golfers in the world, reportedly amassing 2-3 million dollars in annual endorsements, and gracing magazine covers left, right and centre.
However, Gulbis is slowly but surely becoming more well known in the winner’s circle, though it took the Californian blonde a good six years on the LPGA Tour to register her first victory -- and silence her critics who often dubbed her as the Anna Kournikova of women's golf.
"There had been a lot of hype in America with people asking if I was ever going to win," said Gulbis, after her victory in the Evian Masters this summer, which got the tag of “best player not to have won” off her back and brought with it a very attractive euro 380,000 winners cheque to rival her million dollar smile.
"This is my sixth year on tour, and I have been waiting a long time for this day. I knew if I just remained patient it would eventually go my way. This feels great to have done it at last," said a relieved Gulbis, who is now looking forward to her maiden trip to Dubai and a season-ending victory to cap the year off in dramatic fashion.
"I have never been there, but have heard a lot about the city from fellow professionals who talk highly of the Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai Ladies Masters. The quality of field that the two events attract is so impressive,” stated Gulbis when asked recently of her initial thoughts of playing in Dubai.
"It will be fun to play in Dubai and take in the entire week of festivities," said Gulbis, who was out of action for a month earlier this year with a back injury.
She worked on her swing and posture during the forced sabbatical and looks to have come back stronger than ever. "All the work is paying off now," said Gulbis who has posted three top-10 finishes this season in 20 starts.
Commented Mohamed Buamaim, vice-chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAI: "We are really delighted to have Natalie in the field. She is charismatic, she is skilful and her presence will certainly provide a big boost to the tournament.”
"Natalie is already one of the most popular golfers in the world and has done wonders to raise the profile of women's golf. The amount of hard work she puts in every day to improve her game and fitness shows she is determined to realize her dream and is on the brink of mega-star status,” he continued.
"I wish Natalie a pleasant stay here in Dubai and I am confident she will return home with fond memories of this city and further propagate the message of golf in Dubai, as the ‘City of Golf’,” Buamaim added.
‘golf in DUBAI’ is backed by Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the main partner and Emirates-NBD, Emaar, Jumeirah Hotels, Emirates airline, BMW, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Gulf News, Omega and CNN as partners in its drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.