DALY CITY, Calif. | Their lives will never be the same. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. But that doesn’t mean that Jane Park and Mariajo Uribe, a pair of new moms on the LPGA Tour, aren’t ready to return to competition. The duo played their way onto the first page of the leaderboard after the opening round of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, both shooting 3-under par 69s in the morning wave at Lake Merced Golf Club to enter Friday tied for fifth.
“You know, the body has been feeling okay,” Park said. Her daughter, Grace Godfrey, was born last September. MEDIHEAL is only Park’s seventh start in more than a year.
“I'm now getting some pains in my left shoulder because I'm carrying my daughter around,” she said. “I've got to switch sides. But I think body-wise I've been alright thankfully.
“I think the hardest thing is to kind of get your mind back into competition, trying to get into that competitive mode where you're not lackadaisical,” Park said. “Where you're trying to play tournament golf again. It's taken a little while to have a good round. But here we are. I had a great round with my husband (Pete Godfrey on the for the first time in two years). We had a great walk today. I think he enjoyed it. He might not say that he did, but I think he did.”
Park has traveled with Baby Grace, taking her to Virginia to the Pure Silk Championship last month. But this week, Park’s mom and brother are at the Godfrey home in suburban Atlanta, enjoying time while Jane and Pete get back to work.
“I miss her dearly. But it's definitely easier going from golf course straight to home and then back to golf course without tacking on an extra hour or two for prep because I've got her on the road with me,” Park said. “It's been easier this week for sure.”
Uribe’s son, Lucca, was born January 3 of this year. This is Mariajo’s first start since February of 2020.
“It's been a long time since I competed and I didn't have that many expectations,” the 31-year-old from Colombia said. “I just wanted to get back into competition mode before the Olympics.”
The round was great. But Uribe had other things on her mind.
“It's my first week not with my little one,” she said. “He's five months (old), so I just went out there and had fun, probably wasn't as aggressive as I usually am because I'm not that confident in my swing yet. But it worked out. We stayed patient and things worked out on the back nine.
“It's been hard being away from him. But whenever I am, I focus a hundred percent, so when I'm home I'm a hundred percent being a mom. Now I'm a hundred percent competing here. It was nice. It was nice to get a good round in on the first day. It felt like I never left.”
Park began practicing last year, taking Grace out to her home club and hitting a few balls between feedings. Uribe picked up the clubs again the first week of April.
“Probably the last three weeks I really got into competition mode and played a little more,” Uribe said. “But Tuesday was the first time I walked 18 holes in 16 months. And I wasn't tired. Luckily, they say that mom strength is real strength. Somehow, it's a workout to take care of them and it's worked out so far. I'm not tired or anything.
“Now, I’m just going to rest and take it easy, since I haven't been doing that much in the last couple months.
“Luckily, my little one is a good sleeper,” Uribe said. “He usually goes to bed at 7 at night and wakes up around 7 the next day. So, I leave home at 6, so that I can come back around 11 and just get a good five hours - play as fast as I can by myself in a golf cart, because I cannot do those foursomes anymore with my friends on the golf course.”
Park is much of the same. Baby Grace sleeps like her father: fast, hard and long. That leaves time for mom to get out and get some intense practice while still spending a lot of time on her most important job.
“I’m definitely more focused,” Uribe said. “It's been a key for me because it's easy to get distracted when you know your little one is at home. So, just getting those four hours in and just thinking about golf and then going home and taking care of him, that’s important. That’s my day now.”