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Wednesday, January 5, 2005
Updated: February 14, 1:15 PM ET
Big Ben makin' time with LPGA star

By Jason McIntyre
Special to Page 3

He locked up the Rookie of the Year award, helped stake the Pittsburgh Steelers to the best record in the NFL, and has lost only one game that he's started since September of 2003.

Natalie Gulbis
As if Ben Roethlisberger didn't have enough going for him.

But Ben Roethlisberger's best accomplished may be off the field: He's dating the women they're calling "The Anna Kournikova of Golf," Natalie Gulbis.

Apparently, the 6-foot-5 Ohio native has been romancing the soon-to-be 22-year-old Gulbis since December.

When I first heard the news, back in early January, I didn't totally buy it -- she lives in Las Vegas, and he's in Pittsburgh. Where'd they meet, on the internet? So, I put in a call to Natalie's friendly publicist.

He didn't try to spin or deny, he came clean: She had indeed been talking to Big Ben for about five weeks and was likely heading to Pittsburgh that weekend to visit the 22-year-old Steel City Savior.

It's way too early to begin with snarky comments about their "relationship," but it seemed wise to conduct a very informal, unscientific poll among friends: Who's the hotter NFL couple, Big Ben and Natalie, or Heather Mitts and A.J. Feeley?

Mitts, who is Page 2's reigning Hottest Athlete, got the nod, mostly because of her website.

I'd love to see a decathlon between the two couples. At 5-foot-9, Natalie would have a distinct advantage on Mitts (5-foot-5) in hoops or hurdles -- but soccer players can be pretty feisty.

In the event you're only now learning about Gulbis, be sure to check out Page 3's October interview.

She went to the University of Arizona. Guess what other easy-on-the-eyes athlete was recently a Wildcat? No, Luke Walton is not correct. The answer would be softball princess Jennie Finch. If that's what the athletes look like, can you imagine the coeds?

I'll leave you with this: In an earlier interview, Natalie was asked if she had any idols in golf or other sports that she looked up to from an early age. Her answer: Mia Hamm. And we all know she married an athlete.

Jason McIntyre covers sports and entertainment in New York City. He can be reached at