Born in Busan, South Korea, 17-year-old Yujeong Son has had an incredible summer of golf and exceptional career thus far. In 2012, at the age of 11, Son won the U.S. Kids World Championship. Two years after that, the Oklahoma native won the Oklahoma State Women Amateur back-to-back (2014 & 2015), becoming the youngest OSWA champ. This past June, Son qualified and competed in the U.S. Women’s Open after winning the Rolex Girls Junior Championship just weeks before. And last month, she competed in a Symetra Tour event, the Garden City Charity Classic, finishing T11.
We caught up with Yujeong recently to discuss her golf career thus far and what she has in store for the future.
What is one place that you want to go that you have never been before?
There are a lot of places that I want to go to. I have never been to Europe and Japan before, so it would be wonderful if I could go. For golf, I would love to go to Europe and Japan but also it would be a dream to play at Augusta National.
Who is your favorite golfer?
My favorite golfer has to be Inbee Park. I have always looked up to her and she will forever be my role model. I look up to how she handles herself out on the golf course and how patient she is with herself. I have a lot that I can learn from her. She also is a wonderful person off of the golf course. I got to meet her once and I was star-struck!
What is a go-to song that gets you pumped up?
I have a lot of songs that get me pumped up. It depends on what I like at that moment. It can vary from BTS to Selena Gomez to The Chainsmokers. Right now, I think my pump-up songs are from BTS since they just came out with a new album!
What is one thing that surprises people about you?
A lot of people are surprised when they find out that I was born in South Korea. I’m fluent in both Korean and English, so that surprises people, too. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything about me that’s surprising.
Congratulations on a successful summer of golf which included a medalist honors in the first stage of Q-school. How did you stay focused and calm during the final round of the tournament?
Thank you! I really tried not to pay attention to winning the whole thing. My main goal for the week was to make it through the first stage and having that mindset really helped take some of the pressure off. I just trusted my game and played how I would play even if I didn’t have the lead. I think the key was to stay patient with myself throughout that last round.
Is fitness a big part of your training and practice throughout the season? If so, what do you focus on the most to help improve your game?
To be honest, I don’t really work out! I know I’m supposed to and my parents always tell me to. I have some TPI workout/stretches that I do and I stretch to keep my body loose and to prevent injuries. I don’t get enough time to work out during the summer but in the winter season I try to find time to do it.
How do you spend your free time outside of golf?
I love watching movies, reading books and listening to music. Since I’m always outside when I’m golfing, I like to relax and spend time inside when I have free time. I also love to eat good food! For movies, I’ll watch anything that’s good especially rom-coms. I’ll read anything that’s good and I can get my hands on and for music, I’ll listen to just about anything that I find is good.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
My biggest role model outside of golf has to be my parents. The amount of encouragement they give to my sister and me is out of this world. The way they put their 100% into everything really inspires me to try my best at everything I do. Inbee Park is my other role model because of how she handles herself on and off the golf course.
What is your greatest memory of playing golf so far?
My greatest golf memory was when I was 11 and I won the U.S. Kids World Golf Championship at Pinehurst. I think this was the turning point when I knew that I wanted to play golf professionally. I know that I was little, but I just knew at that moment that I wanted to play golf for a long, long time.
How/why did you start playing golf?
I first started playing golf with my dad. My dad started to play golf when we moved to the U.S. He loved it. So, when he went to the golf course, my sister and I would go with him and hit a few balls. When I took more interest in it, my parents put me in golf camps and the head pro at my home course said that I had some talent. Who knew!
What was your favorite golf tournament you have ever played in so far?
My favorite has to be the U.S. Open that I played in this summer. When I qualified, I was so excited! The tournament was everything I dreamed of and more. To play and practice with the pros was truly amazing.
When you are practicing on your own, how long does a typical practice last? What do you focus on?
I guess my usual practice sessions are about 6 hours long. It depends on the day. I used to really focus on my full shots but nowadays it’s all about the short game and putting. I spend hours on that part. It really helps to practice a lot on those to not make the little mistakes that’ll get you after the round. I always like to play a few holes too when I get the chance. It’s really important to always have a feel of the course, because playing out on the course is much different from hitting golf balls for hours on the driving range.
What would you say is your favorite part about playing of golf?
I’m competitive, so I love the competitiveness of playing golf. I also love the feeling of getting better by practicing. I love the feeling I get when I know that the hours spent practicing pay off.
You have played in numerous professional events now and are on your way to getting your tour card. What are you looking forward to most about playing professionally?
To play professionally would mean the world to me. Ever since I took interest in golf, I knew I wanted to turn pro. It was my biggest goal in golf and to be able to achieve it would mean so much. Every time I played in a professional event, it made my goal clearer and drove me to work harder.
What life lessons, if any, has golf taught you throughout the years you have been playing?
I think patience is the biggest thing golf has taught me. In golf, patience is such a big part in both how well I do and how I feel after a round or a tournament. In life, patience is important. Even when things are not going great, having patience and the belief that it’ll get better really changes your mindset on how you look at things. Also, golf has taught me to be more outgoing. Before golf, I had a really introverted personality. Playing golf and meeting new people made me realize that I had to be more confident and more outspoken.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring female golfers who are just starting to play the game?
I would say to never give up! When playing golf, there will be lots of times when you want to quit either from playing badly or from the amount of time golf takes up. It’s important to see this game in the long run. Even after a bad round, hole or even a bad day out on the range, it’s important to never give up and keep trying. Even though there’ll be hard times, there will be so many happier times from playing golf. There will be so many new friends that you’ll make, and when you play well from all of your hard work, you’ll easily forget about the hard times. So, never give up, stay patient and be confident!
Yujeong will compete in the second stage of LPGA Q-school this weekend, after earning medalist honors in the first round over the summer. In addition to her win at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, she finished T6 in the Girls Junior PGA Championship and T9 in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Currently ranked 5th in the AJGA Rolex Rankings, she is scheduled to graduate in 2019. However, collegiate golf is far from her mind as she plans to turn pro by the end of this year. We wish her the best of luck in qualifying and are excited to continue to follow her progress!