News & ToursMay 20, 2009

Swing changes working for UCLA's Uribe

__OWINGS MILLS, MD.--__When UCLA sophomore Maria Jose Uribe decided to go ahead and make some changes to her swing last fall—working on her swing plane to increase her consistency--the plan was to have everything in place in time for the NCAA postseason.

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Well, so far, so good for the Colombia native and former U.S. Women's Amateur champion.

After taking medalist honors at the Central Regional two weeks ago, Uribe went out and shot a six-under 66 Wednesday morning to grab the clubhouse lead with a three-under 141 total mid-way through the second round of the NCAA Women's Championship.

It could been lower, too. Uribe hadn't made a bogey all day at Caves Valley GC until her last hole, the par-4 ninth, when she three-putted from 12 feet.

Uribe finished her impressive round having taken just 24 putts and hitting only 10 greens in regulation; she did hit 12 of 14 fairways. Still, she got up and down six times (several from just on the fringe) and once from a greenside bunker to post the lowest score of the championship thus far.

"Yesterday I was struggling with distance control," said Uribe, who opened with a 75. "I wasn't really confident about the club I had in my hand. And it's really hard when you aren't in the fairway and aren't on the greens to shoot a low score."

"Maria had confidence today in her ball striking," said Bruins coach Carrie Forsyth, whose team finished the morning as the clubhouse leader with a seven-over 295 second-round score and a 13-over 589 total. "She was just making good aggressive swings."

It wasn't just her swing that she tweaked this season. Beginning last February, Uribe worked with Forsyth to revamp her putting stroke as well. With Uribe standing more upright over the ball, she felt more comfortable on the greens.

Uribe is closing out her college career this week, having announced earlier this spring that she would turn professional this summer. Her first pro tournament will be the U.S. Women's Open in July, having qualified by finishing T-10 in the event last year.

"There's more pressure," Uribe said knowing that regionals and nationals are her last as a collegian. "I'm a good player with pressure though. I'm just more focused. I'm more relaxed."

Joining her at Caves Vally GC are her swing coach in Colombia, Pedro Russi, who traveled to Los Angeles month to help Uribe work through her new swing, as well as her mental coach and her father.

Aside from her on-the-course duties, Uribe is also trying to put some off-the-course things in motion. After her Amateur victory in 2007, she decided she wanted to start a foundation, called Fore, that could help underprivileged children back in her home country. The first fundraiser is set for June 10, with the moneys raised going to help build a learning center in Giron, Colombia, the town where Uribe's parents grew up and where Maria was born.

Uribe was initially nervous how her teammates would take the news that she was leaving Westwood after only two years. Yet everyone was very supportive in her decision.

"I'm just glad she's going out the way she wants to," said teammate Tiffany Joh.

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