An Interview With 2007 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion Maria Jose Uribe
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2007 United States Women's Amateur Champion, Maria Uribe. Congratulations.
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Thank you.
RHONDA GLENN: What does it mean to you?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: It means, like, the salary that I get because of all the hard work. I haven't won a tournament in the States, and I win this one. That's great for me (laughter). I'll take it.
And then it means a lot to international players. Now they know that they can. Like Marisa was here and a lot of players were finalists but they never won. It's really good to get it done and with a great opponent, that it's Amanda Blumenherst. She's a great player. What a talent, oh, my God. She has so much talent.
RHONDA GLENN: What a match. Never more than a 1-up margin?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yep. I hit the OB on that hole, and I was like, oh, my God, are you kidding me? If she wins a hole, then I win the next one, and then we were all square all the time, then 1-down, 1-up, 1-down, 1-up. It was intense (laughter).
RHONDA GLENN: I heard somebody say you hit 8-iron to 17.
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Are you kidding me (laughter)? 5-iron.
RHONDA GLENN: So you both hit 5‑iron.
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, she hit it farther than me, it was just the adrenaline that I had. I should have hit 4‑iron. It was like 195.
RHONDA GLENN: But obviously the right club. What did you think when she hit her first putt so far past the hole? What was going through your head?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: I never‑‑ like I knew that I had to make it because she was going to make it. It didn't happen, but that's the way that I think, just you have to make it.
She was struggling a lot with the speed on the greens. She made a lot of three-putts on the back nine. But I knew that if I made it, nothing else can take that hole.
RHONDA GLENN: But she hit her first putt almost six feet past. What were you thinking then?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: I don't know, just, make it. I thought that she was going to make it, though. She didn't make putts today. She deserved one at least, so I was like, you have to make it.
But we didn't read the breaks today at all.
RHONDA GLENN: Neither of you?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No, it was hard.
Q. Was that just a fact of the pressure of the situation, you're playing for this trophy, or was it maybe the way some of the holes were cut?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, like the pins looked really accessible today, like easy, but they weren't at all. It was like really hard to-- because it was like-- you would see to the center and then it was a little bit to the right and stuff like that. So we were both hitting it really close but didn't make any putts if you saw the match.
Q. Okay, 18, walk us through that. You hit another drive way left of the fairway. What happened on that tee shot?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: I hate that tee shot. Oh, my God, it's the worst-- it's the best 18th hole that I have ever seen. You go up there and you see the water is the only thing that you see.
I hit it OB on 14, so I didn't want to do it again. And I was there four times in the whole tournament.
Q. You were?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Two times in stroke play my driver was there, and then in one match.
Q. So you addressed your tee shot?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: And then I just hooked it.
Q. Fear of the water?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Maybe, yeah.
Q. Second shot, what did you use?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: 7-iron. I had 170 to the flag, but I had 140 to the front. I had hit that shot four times, so I knew it was going to bounce like hard, but it didn't. I just needed two putts from there. It wasn't easy, though.
Q. Well, the first putt you were about five feet short, and she fails to chip in, now you have to make it. So what were you thinking as you stood over the last putt?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: It was on my hands to finish the tournament. I didn't need her to miss any putt, I just needed to make that one. I have made a lot of those putts. That is like the best part of my game, like five‑footers and four‑footers. I just didn't think that that was for the win and just go there and relaxed and made it. I didn't see it go in, though.
Q. But when it did go in and you knew you had won, what did you think?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Relief because it was over. And I was just excited. You know, like you think that you are going to be so happy but you don't really realize what you have done. I think it's going to take a while.
Q. Up until this point, as you say, you haven't won a tournament on American soil. What do you think had been holding you back until this week?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: You know, like golfers here are so good, and in Colombia you always have caddies, and you're not used to really the slopes and stuff like that. So when I got here all junior golf is carrying your bag. So I just got used to that.
Just I think that you have to have a lot of opportunities to win a tournament here. If you just play two, it's going to be hard because there's just so many people and you need luck and to play good and everything.
I just played three years and I won this tournament. Like I said, I'll take it (laughter). I was there, and as I told you days before, it's better for me being here playing and not winning than being in Colombia and winning.
Q. You've been here three summers?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: This is my third Amateur, but I played four U.S. Girls. People in Colombia never come to these tournaments. They come when they're in college or they go to the U.S. Girls when they're 17 or 18. But what they don't understand is you have to play since you're like 12.
If you have six opportunities to win a championship, you may get one. But if you just play one, it's really hard.
Q. Did the game come easy to you when you were first starting to play in Colombia, or did you really have to work at this?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Work it. I don't have talent at all (laughter).
Q. What did you say, you don't have talent?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No. It's just like work. I was that kind of player that hit it far but all over the place and didn't make a putt. So just work. Yeah. A lot of work, and I became to be good when I was like 13 or -- yeah, 13. It just came.
Q. Do you enjoy it today?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah.
Q. Do you have fun playing golf?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, I love it. It's just what we were thinking there, my coach that was caddying for me, he was just like, have fun, that's anything that you can do here, have fun.
I feel very proud to be in the final, even if I would have lost, and playing with a player like Amanda Blumenherst, that's great. She's one of the best.
Q. Have you talked to your mother or father since you won?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No, no. I need to go to the hotel to talk to them. They know, though. My sister was on Golf Channel talking with them all the time. So now they know.
Q. What's it like to play in a match like that where it's just so tight and one little mistake is going to decide a match? How intense was it, how much pressure do you feel?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: You will always feel pressure even if you're winning 4‑up or 5‑up. What comes to mind, it's like Tiger Woods winning like being five down or something. So you always have to be there and play good shots. I don't know, it's just, I like to play with pressure. I just feel at home, so it's good. It's better for me playing with pressure than without pressure.
Q. Having as much pressure as you did on some of those four‑, five‑ and six‑footers coming in, how do you deal with that? I mean, you made a lot of them, and as you said, it's the strongest part of your game, but are you just thinking about execution, are you thinking about how much it means to make a putt or what?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Not really, just -- I didn't change like my routine, and I'm not the kind of player that thinks that I'm in the U.S. Open or I need to make this and stuff like that. I just played like if I was playing on my course with my friends. I know that that's the strongest part of my game.
I'm mentally really strong, too. It's not that I think that -- on the match I always think that I was down. I was like, you're three down, you're three down, you're three down, I have to keep it up, keep it up, and it works.
Q. What was your coach saying to you out there, anything to inspire you or keep you calm?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, it's like, have fun, and this is why we practice so much, to be here. It doesn't matter what happens, it's just to be here.
Q. How valuable was he to you?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: He is like my coach, one of my best friends, and just like-- he inspires me. He just knows what to say to me. He has been here with me for three weeks, and he comes all the summer to caddie for me, and he has kids back home and a family and work. But he just comes because he believes in me, so I really appreciate it.
Q. Were you surprised when Amanda blew that one by on 17, that she knocked it by so far?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Not really. She made a lot of three-putts on the back nine, and she was struggling with the speed. But I thought that she was going to make it, though. It didn't surprise me, though.
Q. When you're at home in Colombia how often do you work with your coach? Do you see him every day?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: I work with him Wednesday and Friday for two hours each day. And then the other-- like I see him all the days, but I don't work with him. It's a golf academy, and it's just like I go to practice there all the days. Be but he works with me twice a week, two hours. And then on the weekends we play twice or once.
Q. You've talked about how strong your mental game is. Do you work with anyone, any sports psychologist?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, I have two sports psychologists in Colombia. One is in Bogota, and she's one of the best. And then the other one is just one that works with me all the days in the academy.
While I was here I worked with Steve Russo that was in the golf academy that I was. Those are like my three psychologists.
Q. That was at the AJGA?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, but he's not anymore there.
Q. What is your golf coach's name?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Pedro Russi.
Q. And you worked with Steve Russo you said?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah.
Q. And your other two sports psychologists?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Sandra Garcia and then Gabrielle Cruz.
Q. But you don't work with Steve anymore; you only work with the ones from Colombia now?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No, I talk with him but I'm not working with him.
Q. Do you feel like you've gotten a lot better in the last year or two, mentally stronger? Do you think that they've made a difference?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah. I'm just like‑‑ I have been working like for two years on having better speed on the greens and more breaks and stuff like that, just more feel because I'm not like a feel player. What I told you, like I don't have talent, it's just like work (laughter). It's just working on that and going to the putting green and hitting balls and balls and balls, and this one breaks to the right and the other one to the left. It has helped me a lot.
Q. So you've made‑‑ you say the best part of your game is the short putts, four‑ or five‑footers. Have you made yourself good at that?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, it's basically because I hit my putter really hard and like my stroke is really good. So any four‑ or five‑footer, if you hit it good and hard, it'll go in. You don't have to think it anymore. And because I didn't ever get speed. So if I hit it really hard or short, then I have to make a four‑ or five‑footer all the time. This week you didn't see that, but that's almost always how it works with me.
My speed was really good the last three days. The other days, no.
Q. Have you heard from Carrie [Forsyth] at all? Did you talk to Carrie?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No, I talked to her yesterday, and I was still, like, UCLA again. I don't know, she's like‑‑ I love her, and I just talked with Tiffany Joh. I just want to be there now.
Q. What is your schedule from now? Will you go home before you go back to UCLA?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Yeah, I'm going home for three weeks, I think, and I think I'm playing a tournament there, just like small tournament. And then go to UCLA and start studying and playing golf.
Q. So you will literally go home tomorrow?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Tomorrow, 6:00 o'clock in the morning. I want to be there now.
Q. What kind of welcome do you think you'll get?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: I don't know, just like my parents, my family and my friends. But I don't think like media and stuff like that. They don't get it -- believe me, it's Colombia.
Q. So there won't be a parade like Angel Cabrera had?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: Well, Argentinian people, they are like so into sports and they are really proud of it. But Colombia, I don't think so, and I don't live in the capital city. Maybe if I lived in Bogota, the media was going to be there. But I don't really know what to expect. They have never had this before, so we'll see.
Q. You might be pleasantly surprised. Where do you plan on keeping the trophy, Colombia or a UCLA dorm room?
MARIA JOSE URIBE: No, I think it should go to Colombia for a while, and then maybe I'll take it to UCLA. But I just want it to stay on my course and maybe to the Colombian Federation. They deserve it, too.
RHONDA GLENN: Well, congratulations, Maria. You're a wonderful champion with a great golf swing, and you obviously used it very well today. We're very happy for you. Thanks so much for spending time with us.
MARIA JOSE URIBE: It's a pleasure.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports....