Interview With 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion Jennifer Song
BETH MURRISON: We are very happy to have with us Jennifer Song the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion; how does that sound?
JENNIFER SONG: It's just, um, you know, breathtaking, and I haven't absorbed this feeling yet. I'm still, you know, at the beginning stage. Maybe when I get back to the hotel, I'll feel, you know, grateful feeling.
BETH MURRISON: It was a terrific match out there. It was great to watch and just great play all day. Can you talk a little bit about playing in it and just what your thoughts were as you went through the day.
JENNIFER SONG: Well, today was just, I almost had a heart attack out there. I told other people that, like, I may have looked calm outside, but there was like a volcano eruption going inside me body, and I was breathing hard, and I was going, like, oh my gosh calm down Jennifer, and I was taking a lot of, you know, deep, big breaths.
And Johnson was just a tough player. She came strong, and it was intense the whole, you know, round.
Q. You were four down through ten holes and looking, Jennifer was looking like maybe she was going to run away with this thing, and you really fought back to get it all squared at lunch. How did you feel at lunch; did you feel like the momentum had finally swung your way because you came out and birdied the first twelve?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, when I started the second round of match play I just told myself, hey, since you're all squared, you know, go strong from the beginning to the end, and don't even let her get a chance, you know, of getting this championship. I just told myself, just enjoy, and just focus on my game, and don't look at her game.
And, like, the whole round I didn't look at her shots, most of her shots.
Q. You got the lead again and she starts making a run at you. You are three up and she gets birdies on 12 and 13, you are square, the crowd is kind of pulling for her, the momentum is starting to swing again. Then on 15 you hit about a seven-foot putt for par to win the hole. Talk about losing the lead and then making that crucial putt.
JENNIFER SONG: Well, yeah, a lot of things were going through my head, but I consistently told myself, hey, you know, you've got this, you know, stay cool and just don't make any, you know, mistakes. When you get a chance, make it, and if you're, like, on the green, I don't know, my dad kept on telling me, hit it on the fairway, hit it on the green, and make two putts or make one putt if possible. And it was just a, that was, like, the hardest thing to do on this golf course.
This golf course is really tricky. The undulations are just everywhere. You don't even have a flat surface area out here. So it was just breathtaking all the way through.
Q. Did you dad tell you anything at lunch, what did you all talk about?
JENNIFER SONG: He didn't talk about golf. He was just saying he was tired and he was hungry during the first match. He said, remember, Jennifer, I ate a banana, which hole was that. I was like I don't know. He was like I was starving that hole. We were kind of laughing (laughter) taking our time off and not thinking about golf.
But he told me that I was doing great and just stay positive and that's what I did.
Q. I talked with your dad and he said that you like to talk about family stuff, you know, between shots or whatever.
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah.
Q. Did you do a lot of that?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, I talked about where is mom, like, I don't see her. My dad's, like, she's somewhere, honey, behind the trees. I'd be like, I would say like, do you think my brother is doing well in China, because he is doing internship there right now.
But in between sometimes I talk about what I want to eat today. He'll be like, Jennifer, focus. I'm like but you said relax, that's what I am trying to do. He's like, no, focus. He's just on and off.
Q. He also said the this is really special because your mom was here for this. I guess she hasn't seen a lot of your golf?
JENNIFER SONG: I think it's been awhile that she's seen me win and really hold on to the trophy and smile. Like, when I hugged my dad at the end, my tears weren't out yet, but when I saw my mom, you know, that feeling when you see your mom, it's your mom, so you just cry. Even, like, for all the kids, when they're in trouble, they call for their mom and not for their father (laughter).
Q. Where was she when you won the Public?
JENNIFER SONG: She was in Korea, and I'm pretty sure she was crying in front of the computer screen (laughter).
Q. And it looked like you prepared your speech. Did you do that before the day started or right after or whatever?
JENNIFER SONG: Just before the event my dad and I just talked about what I would like to say if I win.
Because, whenever I enter a tournament, I am here to win and not just play great golf. But, yeah, I have the full purpose of winning any tournament, so I try to prepare myself with little speech.
Q. The world's fair reference was very good; did you research that?
JENNIFER SONG: No. We actually went to the Forest Park and at the Historical Museum they mentioned about how the Exposition World Fair started. It was really nice.
Q. Have you met Pearl Sinn at all because she is Korean descent as well?
JENNIFER SONG: She is?
Q. Yeah, she was born in Korea and became a American citizen.
JENNIFER SONG: No, I've never met her. She won before I was even born.
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, 1988.
Q. When were you born?
JENNIFER SONG: '89, December.
Q. Did any of the players seem like they were really much concerned about (nomicrophone).
JENNIFER SONG: I am pretty hot and humid out there but both of us were so into our games that we didn't even realize it was that hot.
But we drank a lot of water. I think I drank, like, 12 bottles, yeah, that was a lot. I feel like my body is drowning under water right now.
Q. The wind factor, it seemed like gusting today.
JENNIFER SONG: On Par3s and, like, on second shots it was really hard because the greens were much firmer and faster. And on Par3s, like on number 13, the pin was tucked right in front of the green. It was just so hard with the winds blowing behind us, and it was very tricky out there.
Q. Jennifer, is winning one more satisfying than the other when you think about it?
JENNIFER SONG: Both are very satisfying. You cannot replace winning a championship, and both are very prestigious, so I'm very happy for it.
Q. I'm sure you are aware you are a student at SC and Heritage Hall is there and there's seven Heisman trophies and there's buses of great coaches and, I think, 110 national team championships. Is there a spot there for these two trophies? I mean, you think they probably want them there at some point?
JENNIFER SONG: I'm not sure. Like, yeah, whenever I go to the athletic department on the walls there is all these football and baseball players, but I've never seen a golf player on there.
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah.
Q. Do you think they might build one for you there?
JENNIFER SONG: Maybe (Laughter) yeah.
Q. When did you first find out about this championship?
JENNIFER SONG: When I first played in the Women's Amateur in '07, that's when I first entered this game. Before that I didn't know a lot about the tournament in the U.S. because majority of the time I was playing in Korea. But my dad knew all about these tournaments. I was like a rookie.
Q. So the Open in '07 was your first USGA event?
JENNIFER SONG: Yes.
Q. This is a tough one but, you know, after NCAAs, like, did you kind of sit down with your family and did they serve as kind of a support group to help you kind of get over what happened? Or was it, you know, a few days went by and you're, like, I am going to move on and keep golfing. What happen exactly happened after that?
JENNIFER SONG: Um, both of my parents, my mom and my dad, they were great supporters. It's really weird because my grandparents were kind of saying, hey, you know, you need to know how to win, it's like you gave up actually. I was like, no, I never give up. They were kind of making me mad. Because they're kind of old tradition guys, so they scold you when you don't do it right. Made me feel kind of bad.
But I learned a lot from them too. I learn from anything.
Q. And that helped you, I guess, prevail in WAPL? Coming down the stretch in the last match, did you think about what your grandparents had told you?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah. A lot of times I had a lot of second finishes so I told myself, hey, you had a lot of chances but you just lost it by yourself. So when I went into the WAPL and when I was ready to play Kimberly Kim I told myself, when you get a chance, grab on to it, you need to know how to grab on to it. And it just turned out that way. And now I think I'm moving one step at a time.
Q. You said you didn't watch so much what your opponent was doing, but it would seem like if there is a big difference in the match you erased lot of your mistakes by making up and downs throughout the round. And she didn't seem to have, there were stretches where that was the case but didn't seem to have that same consistency. First of all, is that typical of you as a player, that you have great escape skills when you make mistakes, would you agree that might have been the defense in the match, your ability around the greens to save pars?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah. I think, yeah, I have a great short game, and I think that's just because I practice a lot. When I'm at SC and when my classes are over I would go to the little short-game area and just spend, like, whole hours, like, I don't know, like, three hours there practicing just short game. They have one bunker, so I practice a lot of bunker shots. I think that really helped me. It comes out.
Q. Put in perspective, I mean, you are the seventh player to win two titles in a year. The names are Bob Jones, Chick Evans, these are great players. Put in perspective what it means to you to win two of these in a year. I mean, Tiger never won two USGA titles in a year. These are legends. I mean, it's difficult to win one, let alone two?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, right after the WAPL Championship I went to the USGA Museum and I saw that Bob Jones won the U.S. Am, British Am, and the [U.S. and British] Open, right?
Q. Both opens.
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah. And that was really inspiring. And I had a feeling that, hey, maybe I could do that, too. But I played great at the Open but I'm really glad I have two championships in my hand right now.
Q. Were you surprised that you had to putt out on 17? Did you expect her to because you basically had a 2-footer.
JENNIFER SONG: I wasn't surprised. I think she was just allowing me to have my champion putt so I felt thankful for her. And she worked great out there. I need to, you know, put my hat off to her, too.
Q. Do you feel like you found someone as focused as you are on the golf course? She doesn't show a whole lot of emotion.
JENNIFER SONG: Really? I don't know (laughter). It's just that maybe I have a poker face. Like, inside there is a lot of things going through.
But I think there are a lot of focused players out there. It's just that it's not their time right now. It took me a long time to reach this.
Q. When did the volcano erupt inside?
JENNIFER SONG: From when she was four up. I was breathing really hard. I never, you know, experienced that in my life. I thought I need some kind of asthma, what do you call it?
BETH MURRISON: Inhaler.
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, inhaler. It was really tough.
Q. You won the next two holes after that I think so something must have kicked in?
JENNIFER SONG: Where was that?
Q. Four down after 10 and you won 11 with a birdie putt.
JENNIFER SONG: Oh, yeah. On the way to, after I hit my second shot my dad said, hey, that's a great shot you can make it. He said, he just told me that a lot of your putts are not lower, it's high and you are getting the right speed. So he said this one's going to go in and it really dropped in.
Q. Get any text messages from coaches, players, fellow teammates?
JENNIFER SONG: I don't have my cell phone right now.
Q. Last night?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, last night coach told me, you know, Jennifer, you are doing great, keep it going. And I checked my Facebook and a lot of my teammates were saying, hey, I'm cheering for you, I've been looking to your scores like for the whole week. And I have a lot of great supporters around me, and I think that really helped me to reach this point.
Q. What did you hit in there at 11 or the 18 to get back?
JENNIFER SONG: I had 157yards to the flag, but I knew the wind was behind me. Would usually hit a 7‑iron but I took my full 8. Then it kind of bounced up, then I was able to make the putt.
Q. Steve Reese, Jennifer Johnson's caddie said he thought you did tremendously all day today. How would you assess how you putted not only today but all tournament?
JENNIFER SONG: I putted tremendously (laughter) I'll admit it.
Q. So he was accurate?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah.
Q. So you felt good about that part of your game certainly?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah. Honestly, I wasn't confident about my shots when I was coming into this tournament. I was kind of tired physically, and my swings were just all over the place. And I just said, just forget about the mechanics, just get up there and swing it and wherever it goes just finish with your short game, and I did it well.
Q. Kind of going back to what you just said. When I saw you in short play you were really frustrated with the driver but even then you were like I'm not even gonna try to fix it, I'm just going to play with it. Did something click today? It seemed like overall you drove it pretty well?
JENNIFER SONG: Yes. Starting from yesterday I just thought when I got out there I just swung thinking that there wasn't actually a ball in front of me and that actually helped me a lot. I just thought that I was hitting into a vast expanse and that really helped me.
Q. You mentioned in your speech 1904 and Forest Park. And I any earlier in the week you came in here and talked about how there was a point where you felt like there was too much golf and you needed to find escape or interests. I mean, when you say that in your speech, do you really draw some inspiration from things outside golf?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, a lot. And even before I went to the Forest Park and had all of this historic [stuff] before I learned the historical facts of St.Louis, I went to Six Flags and rode a lot of rides and that really, you know, took me away from golf. Those are the things that I need here and there in between tournaments.
Q. Do you do that in all of your tournaments, do you try to take in the community as much as playing the tournament?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah, my dad makes me. And I like doing that, too, so we enjoy doing that.
Q. So you have a better feel for America now because you are player than if you were just a tourist?
JENNIFER SONG: Yeah.
BETH MURRISON: Well, Jennifer, thank you so much. Congratulations. I'm very proud of you. Particularly double champion. Well done.
JENNIFER SONG: Thank you so much.