18 Questions With ...
Maria Jose Uribe, Who Now
Rubs Shoulders With The Stars In L.A.
April 3, 2008
When Maria Jose Uribe defeated reigning two-time NCAA
champion Amanda Blumenherst 1-up for the U.S. Women's
Amateur title last year at Crooked Stick Golf Club in
Carmel, Ind., she became a national hero. The spunky
17-year-old became the first Colombian ever to win the
coveted Robert Cox Cup.
The bubbly Uribe, currently a freshman at UCLA, is no
stranger to U.S. Golf Association championships, though.
One who wears her emotions on her sleeve, she was a
quarterfinalist in 2005 as an alternate into the field
and advanced to the round of 16 in 2006. She's played
in two U.S. Women's Opens and was also a
quarterfinalist in the 2006 Women's Amateur Public
Links. She recently shared her thoughts about the impact
her victory had on her home country, herself and being a
teen living in Los Angeles.
You appear to be a free spirit on the course. Is that
indicative of your off-the-course character?
|Maria Jose Uribe calls herself
"a practice freak." (Steve Gibbons/USGA)|
Maria Jose Uribe:
Definitely, I am a free-spirit person. I was raised to be
like that. I got that from my mom.
The reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion. How
often have you been introduced like that and what's
People say that all the time. I just smile. It is a really
awkward situation . I don't know what to do. But I
guess I have to be proud of myself and enjoy it.
Do you have any golf superstitions you care to
It will not end if I tell you all the superstitions that I
have. But the more important ones are that I don't play
with a [certain golf ball], I hate to make birdie on the
first hole, I think it is good luck to find ladybugs on the
golf course . and I better stop now.
Is there a favorite quote that you adhere to?
Gary Player: "The more I practice, the luckier I
Did winning the U.S. Women's Amateur change you in
It did change me, but not in the way everybody thinks. It
made me realize that I play golf because I love it, and it
is my passion not because of winning. I love to compete,
but now I know that the day that I do not enjoy a round
golf will be the day I retire. I love this game and
everything about it.
Last year was a special year for Latin golfers. Who
would win a match between you and Angel Cabrera, the U.S.
Definitely it was a year in which Latin people stepped
up. I will say that it will be close [laughter]. It is
match play; anything can happen.
If you could be the 'Czar of Golf,' what one
rule would you change or implement?
I don't really know. Maybe I will try to fix the pace
of play in tournaments. I hate to wait on every hole.
What's been your biggest 'Wow!' moment as a
I think when I got to the quarterfinals in the 2004 U.S.
Women's Amateur. It was definitely a turning point for
my career. I realized that I was good and that I was able
to compete at this level.
What's your favorite subject at UCLA? Least
Music history 5/history of rock n' roll was by far my
favorite class. My least favorite will be physics probably.
In the immediate aftermath of winning a championship,
every champion says, "It feels great," or "I
can't believe it." But it takes some distance to
fully appreciate what you accomplished. When did that come
for you after winning the U.S. Women's Amateur?
After three weeks of non-stop media attention in Colombia,
I realized how big my win was. It was not about the
tournament or what it did for me. It was about Colombian
people hearing golf news, instead of soccer or other
sports. I think it help to spread golf in Colombia.
How did you celebrate winning the U.S. Women's
They made me a welcome party at the home course that is
like my second family. Fortunately I got a video of the
match, so my friends and family were able to watch the
match. Obviously I went out to dance with my friends after
Do you have an iPod? If so, what three songs are the
Yeah. "Love song" by Sara Bareilles;
"La travesia" by Juan Luis Guerra; and "No
estamos solos" by Eros Ramazzotti and Ricky Martin.
What's your closest encounter with greatness?
Someone you've met that made you just step back and
say, "Wow, that was pretty neat."
I had the pleasure to meet Lorena Ochoa in the 2006 U.S.
Women's Open. She introduced herself to me and I think
that small gesture of humbleness showed me all about her
unique and modest personality.
If you didn't play golf, what would you like to
I would love to be a sports psychologist or work on a sport
channel as a reporter.
What's been your most embarrassing moment on the
I think that every time I make a fist pump thinking that
the ball is going in and it lips out.
Is there a player, male or female, who you try to
pattern your game or demeanor after?
Tiger Woods is my favorite and actually I use his swing as
a pattern for mine. But I definitely see Lorena Ochoa as a
UCLA is right there in the heart of Los Angeles.
What's the nightlife like? Being the U.S. Women's
Amateur champ, do you rub shoulders with the stars?
I am 17 years old, so I am not supposed to have nightlife
in the USA [Laughter]. Basically I am studying,
working out or I have sushi/movie night with my teammates.
I have seen some stars like Bruce Willis, Shakira, Adam
Sandler and others. We see Dennis Quaid almost every Friday
at Bel-Air Country Club.
What's the best thing you've done or seen in Los
Angeles that everyone should see or do?
Korea town [laughter]. Korean barbecue is amazing. I can
thank my Asian teammates for that.