Last year, the 21-year-old won the first professional event she entered (the Futures Tour's Tate & Lyle Players Championship). The win wasn't surprising, considering her stellar amateur career: in 2007, she tied for low amateur at the U.S. Women's Open; she was named Freshman of the Year in 2008 at the University of Southern California; she finished low amateur at the 2009 U.S. Women's Open; she won both the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur; and she became a two-time All-American golfer in 2009 after tying for fifth place at the NCAA Championship.
The Orlando resident will play in the first LPGA Tour event of the 2011 season (the Honda LPGA Thailand, from Feb. 17-20), and she answered our 18 questions about golf, her personal life and the things that make her happy.
Golf Digest Woman: You were born in Michigan, then moved to South Korea when you were 2 years old. You moved back to Michigan for three years, but returned to South Korea until returning to the U.S. for college. How did you become interested in golf?
Jennifer Song: I liked every sport I played, but I really followed my dad. I picked up his clubs and I really enjoyed it. I went out to play in a local tournament when I was 10, and I won. That's when I got hooked. I got serious about golf in eighth grade.
GDW: What other sports did you play? Do you think they helped your golf game, or did they get in the way?
JS: I played volleyball, basketball and soccer. Actually, in the tenth grade I played some varsity soccer. All these sports really helped my golf game. Since the golf ball doesn't move, we tend to get too analytical about everything. But since I've played a lot of fast sports, I've tried to hit golf shots more instinctively than analytically.
JS: Playing on the 2010 Curtis Cup team was a really great experience. Since I played a lot of those team sports growing up, I knew how much harder it is to win as a team instead of as an individual. And 2009 was definitely my breakthrough year. I won the 2009 Women's Public Links and U.S. Women's Amateur. Since I had never really won before 2009, I broke the losing spell, which felt amazing.
GDW: Have you adjusted your training schedule to help you play well in 2011?
JS: I've practiced a lot more. For four weeks during the off-season, I practiced with my coach, Robin Symes, every day for 10 hours. I'd get up at 6, start practicing at 8, ate lunch at 12, practiced again from 1 until about 5:45, had dinner, then went to the gym for an hour and a half. I did that for four weeks. Golf is my job now, so I'm doing the same thing that any other professional would do.
GDW: What's your fitness regime?
JS: I work out four to five times a week. If I can't go to the gym, I do crunches at home. I hate lunges, but I do them anyways. I get a lot of cramps in my lower body, and when I do lunges, I always cramp up the next night, during my sleep. The cramps are very painful--they last for 10 to 15 minutes and all I can do is lie there. I don't know, maybe I need to drink more water or something. But I do the lunges anyways, because they're so good for strengthening my lower body, which is key for the golf swing.
GDW: What is your ultimate goal for 2011?
JS: I'd like to be the Rookie of the Year on LPGA Tour, and I want to finish in the top 10 on money list. I definitely have to work hard because there are so many competitive golfers out there. If I focus on finishing in the top 5 in every tournament I play in, I'll have a chance of meeting my goals.
GDW: Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it?
JS: I used to be very closed-minded. Even when people gave me tips and pointers, I'd always say, "I have my own routine." But after 2008, I told myself to be more open and listen to what others had to say. I didn't promise to do what they said, but I promised to at least listen. It made me more relaxed. I took in a lot of information and listened to everyone.
GDW: What has been the best advice you've ever been given?
JS: The most important thing for me is to be happy out on the golf course. I know this is my job. I signed up for this. I want to be happy all the time, no matter the outcome. And a couple of the other girls have told me that I have to manage my time well. Golf can't be my whole life. So when I step off the golf course, I have to do other things. I just bought a guitar, and I'm a real beginner. So in my spare time I'm going to play the guitar and try to get good.
GDW: Okay, now some more personal questions. What's your favorite food?
JS: I absolutely love food. I'll literally eat anything. Ice cream is my favorite. In Korea, I pretty much ate Baskin Robbins ice cream every day. I try to eat different flavors every day, because I like trying new stuff.
GDW: You read a lot. What book are you ripping through right now?
JS: I'm reading "Justice," by Michael Sandel. So far, it has a very slow beginning, but maybe it'll get better. My father recommended it, and he usually has good taste so I'll stick with it. But I'm waiting for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest to come out in paperback. I read the first two books of the series [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire] and they were so good.
GDW: What's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?
JS: I got a condo this winter, in Orlando. That counts, right? (Laughs)
GDW: What are the last three songs you downloaded on your iPod?
JS: I download hundreds of songs at a time. But the ones I'm listening to right now are The Script's "Man Who Can't be Moved," "Pyramid" by Charice and Iaz, and "Moving Mountains" by Usher.
GDW: What's your most embarrassing moment?
JS: When I was in middle school I went out to play in golf tournament and my mom had washed my white capri pants. She put it in some sort of bleach for too long, and the fabric got weak. I was practice putting and my pants ripped in half. Everyone saw my gray-with-white-polka-dots underwear. My yardage book was half the size of the hole. That was awful, and I don't want to experience that again. I always test my pants now before heading out!
GDW: What's your most prized possession in your golf bag?
JS: My putter. It's a Scotty Cameron Newport. It was custom-made for me and it's rainbow colored. People are always tempted to take it. I've been using Scotty Cameron putters forever, and I always stick with the Newport 2. I got the rainbow one last year, and I had Christmas-colored one two years before that. In 2009, someone stole my putter. I didn't even get to say goodbye to the putter I used to win the Public Links and U.S. Amateur.
GDW: What do people not know about you?
JS: A lot of people think I'm a very serious person, because they only see me on the course. But the people who spend time with me off the course know I'm silly. Everyone has their own way of dealing with pressure, and I get very serious on the course. Being quiet and being serious is my own way to stay focused. So hopefully nobody gets intimidated. I'm a nice girl.
GDW: And you want to donate a lot of your winnings, right?
JS: Yea, that's another reason I have to play well, I want to donate a lot of money. This is a concept I've had in mind since I was a kid. When I was 6 or 7, when there was a hurricane my dad would tell me to donate a dollar or two dollars. He told me that I needed to donate, even when I didn't have anything.
GDW: From where/who do you draw your inspiration?
JS: Definitely my parents. The amount of love they gave me I want to give it back to the people around me. I want other people to be as happy as I am. I want to share the happiness.
GDW: Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
JS: My motto: be happy, whatever the circumstances. I want to be the happiest person in the world.
(Photo by Chris Graythen, Getty Images)