Titleist Brand Ambassador and LPGA Tour rookie Mariajo Uribe is set to make her first start of the year at this week's Kia Classic presented by J Golf. The 20-year-old from Bucaramanga, Colombia turned professional last summer after a stellar amateur career that included a victory at the 107th United States Women's Amateur Championship, a top ten finish at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, and two years of collegiate golf at UCLA. She qualified for the 2010 tour via her T-12 finish at the 2009 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. Team Titleist caught up with Mariajo this week at the La Costa Resort & Spa to ask her a few questions about herself and the upcoming season. We'll also be checking in with her throughout the year to provide updates on her progress as a rookie on the LPGA Tour. Following the interview is an image gallery featuring the Titleist equipment she has in play. Good luck this season, Mariajo!
Team Titleist: When did you arrive in town?
Mariajo Uribe: I came in early to go to the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio on Friday, I think it was my third visit there. I love it. I have three putters...I am spoiled now!
TT: You gap your wedges from a 46 to a 52 to a 60. To many people, that would seem like a big gap.
MU: I set up my wedges based on the course. If it is a short course, I will do 46, 52, 56, 60 and take out a hybrid, either the 21 or the 24 depending on the shots I will need to hit that week. I played all my life with the 52 and the 60, mixing in the 56 is a new thing. This 46 degree goes 115 yards, this 52 goes about 95, so it is about a 20 yard gap. A lot of people have the big gap between their 9 iron and pitching wedge, I just have it here.
TT: Tell us about your irons.
MU: I got these new AP2s in January, but I played the original AP2s before that. I have been a Titleist girl forever, since 2004, I think. In Colombia not a lot of girls use Titleist because they think of them as men's clubs. But they are really good, I play great with them. It's been getting bigger, especially with Camilo out there. Now all the kids play Titleist because it seems like all the good players use Titleist. I am very happy with my clubs and want to stay with them hopefully through my whole career because that is what has worked so well for me in my amateur career. I am not going to switch for anything.
TT: Is this your professional debut?
MU: I played the Sun Coast about two weeks ago in Daytona, but this feels like my first. It is the beginning of the LPGA season.
TT: Have you set specific goals for yourself in your first season on the LPGA Tour?
MU: My goal this year is Top 20 in the Rolex World Ranking. That will be a hard thing to do, especially because there are not a lot of tournaments. So I have to get in these early events and play well if I am going to achieve that. It motivates me.
TT: Coming off a stellar amateur career, what have you noticed as major differences in your early professional career?
MU: Well a big difference is JUST playing golf, and practicing more; being able to focus only on my golf without having to worry about school and midterms and all that stuff. That has been really good, trying to get more focused on my game. Another difference is that this is more like work. Before there was just one tournament, one shot at winning, and that was fun, but I like this because I have another event next week or the week after. Before it was just one shot at a big tournament, and if you didn't do well you may have to wait until next year, but now I have a lot of weeks to have the opportunity to go out and play well.
TT: Are you prepared for the travelling?
MU: Yes, I am used to it. College wasn't that much different, we would be out for a week or two and then back for a week. But I like it, it keeps it fun. Plus I am back at home, so it makes it easier when I get to go back to Colombia on the off weeks.
TT: Speaking of Colombia, the golf spotlight has shone there of late. Camilo Villegas just won his third PGA Tour event, is he someone you admire?
MU: Definitely. Camilo is a huge thing in Colombia. Not only is he a very good golfer, he is a good model to follow on how to be a good person. I really like him and hopefully I can do as well as he does with everything.
TT: Camilo was home a couple weeks ago to help kick off the inaugural Nationwide Tour event in Colombia. Would you like to see an LPGA event in Colombia?
MU: Yes! For sure! That was a big step for us, getting a three year commitment for a Nationwide Tour event. Hopefully we can have a women's event as well. Perhaps we will start with a Futures Tour event and then the LPGA will follow. That would be a lot of fun...it would be even better if I am playing really good.
Titleist Brand Ambassador and LPGA rookie Mariajo Uribe works with her instructor early this week at La Costa. Click for more images.