It was her lone tournament win, and she remembers the relief of getting that first one.
Like two other long-ago visitors to France, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, who always had Paris in the 1942 movie “Casablanca,” Natalie Gulbis of the United States, a longtime member of the L.P.G.A. Tour, can say she will always have Evian.
Gulbis, who three times played in the Solheim Cup, a biennial tournament in which a European team plays an American team, registered her lone tour victory at the Evian Masters in 2007, beating Jang Jeong of South Korea by two-putting from 25 feet for a birdie on the first playoff hole. Trailing Juli Inkster by four shots heading into the final round, she closed with a two-under 70.
Gulbis, 40, who plays very few tournaments these days and has undergone multiple back surgeries, reflected recently on her victory in France.
The conversation has been edited and condensed.
What stands out about that week in 2007?
The relief that I could win a tournament. I had worked so hard to become a tour professional, and I had finished second one too many times before. And that event is so incredibly special. I was paired with Annika [Sorenstam], who was one of my best friends on tour.
What do you recall about the playoff hole?
I remember trying to focus on hitting it [her second shot] solid and making sure that I carried the water and gave myself a chance. My caddie gave me less club. He knew that players who get in contention always have extra adrenaline.
What’s so special about the Evian event?
It’s in this most beautiful place up in the hills overlooking Lake Geneva, the golf course is incredible, and just the way they treat you from start to finish. It’s really the closest thing we have to the Masters.
Any explanation for why it was your only tour victory?
No. And I don’t even think about it unless somebody asks. I really don’t. When I look back at my career, the most fun and memorable events have been team events. It would be interesting to see how I would feel if I had won 10 [individual] events. I don’t know if I’d sit here feeling significantly different.
So you’re not disappointed?
I think I’d feel guilty if I felt disappointed. The opportunity to be a professional athlete is so special, and I just don’t take that for granted. To compete all over the world and play for an organization like the L.P.G.A. has far exceeded any expectation I could have ever imagined.
What’s the state of the tour these days?
In 2023, we’re playing for $101 million, 33 events. Absolutely crazy if I would have thought 10 years ago that the L.P.G.A. would be playing for over $100 million in a season.
What’s the most nervous you ever were in a Solheim Cup?
In Sweden in 2007, I was the anchor match [in the final group]. And then, that morning, I thought, ‘What did I commit to?’ That means it could come down to my match. It didn’t, and I ended up winning my match anyway.
Are you excited about being an assistant to captain Stacy Lewis at this fall’s Solheim Cup in Spain?
I am excited. It is a very different experience being a captain than it is being a player, and I think I’m going be even more nervous as a captain. Stacy has worked so hard, and she is so committed to try to get that cup back, and I just want to help her in any way I can.
Would you want to be a captain yourself some day?
I’m not sure. I don’t like to say until I have completely seen what it’s like to be an assistant captain all the way through.
What was the biggest impact your instructor, Butch Harmon, made on you?
Everything. How much time do you have? I started working with him when I was 18, and what he has done for me, on and off the golf course, it’s amazing. He’s helped me in every aspect of being a professional golfer, and it’s so much more than competing. He is such a huge fan of women’s golf, and I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to work with him for 20 years.
Source: Golf - nytimes.com