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Momoko Ueda 2009 Q&A from the AIR Magazine vaults

Momoko Ueda

Her 2007 successes—being the youngest Japanese golfer to top the JLPGA money list and winning the Mizuno Classic, which qualified her for the LPGA tour—helped her break out onto the international scene. She went on to represent Japan in the Golf World Cup and played at St. Andrews, all in the same year.

How is Momoko doing today? Although she did not have the impact of fellow countrywoman Ai Miyazato in her rookie season on the LPGA tour, Ueda is renowned for her focus, drive and ambition. We caught up with her between tournaments in the USA.

Competing in the LPGA

Momoko Ueda

Air: What did you learn from your experience in your first season on the LPGA tour?

Momoko: In hindsight, I think the most important lesson I learned is how important it is to prepare oneself mentally and physically to win.

Air: How do you feel you are playing now? What are your goals this season both in Japan and the USA?

Momoko: Well, I always try my best to enjoy the game, and this will not change. I am also learning how to establish myself and working to better prime myself to win. My goals are to win on the US tour and to win a major title on the Japan tour this year.

Air: How is your English? Do you practice a lot?

Momoko: I practice as much as I can by speaking with people on the tour, for example, other players, caddies, LPGA staff, volunteers, pro-am competitors, sponsors and fans.

Air: What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in golf so far?

Momoko: Winning the 2007 Mizuno Classic and taking the prize money title in Japan that same year. That was amazing for me.

Air: Were you surprised that Lorena Ochoa retired at 28?

Momoko: Yes, I was. It's a very young age at which to retire. But she also seems very confident about what she wants to do with her life. I believe she has a bright future ahead of her.

Off the course

Momoko Ueda

Air: What do you concentrate on when you practice at the range? Take us through an average session.

Momoko: I am now working on maintaining my rhythm, alignment and balance. Practicing these three rudiments is helping me close the gap between how well I think I am doing and how well I am actually doing. At a typical training session, I start with putting, then move on to chipping and longer shots, and finally go back to putting before I go to tee off. This is my routine.

Air: How do you condition yourself mentally?

Momoko: I try to keep my mind completely free of distractions throughout every round. I always look for fun things to do outside of the golf course in order to be happy and relaxed when I play.

Air: If you were not a professional golfer, what kind of career path do you think you might have followed?

Momoko: Honestly, I can't imagine being anything but a professional golfer.

Air: What's the best piece of advice you can give to foreigners who play golf in Japan?

Momoko: That's easy. Enjoy playing on some of the most beautiful courses you will find anywhere!

Air: Who is your favorite male golfer?

Momoko: Tiger Woods.

Air: If you were stranded on a desert island, but could take any three items with you, what would they be?

Momoko: Rice, a lighter and a boat. (Laughs)

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