The 26-year-old who led wire to wire at the SBS Open talks extreme sports, khakis and, of course, bandannas
SI: How was your victory this year different from last year's win at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship, when you became the first Filipino to win an LPGA event?
JR: I always imagined that the first time I won, I'd be in the last group, with people squirting champagne at me, but it didn't happen that way last year. I thought this year was my chance--I was in the last group--but I didn't get any love [because Michelle Wie was in contention].
SI: Did it still feel good?
March 7, 2005
JR: It feels great because at the end of last year I was really close a few times. So I was excited to start the year. It turned out to be a pretty good start.
SI: What did you do during the off-season?
JR: Nothing. I played a couple of weeks ago in South Africa in the World Cup, but that was about it. In two months I played only one other time, at an event for my sponsors. I was a little rusty this week, but the rest was really good for me.
SI: Do you feel you're ready to become an elite player?
JR: I was ranked Number 1 [at Southern Cal], but when I got out on the tour, I was a nobody. It was hard adjusting to that, and the competition was hard. Everybody is so good out here. My game plan now is to be consistent and keep putting myself in contention and make a run at [the elite players].
SI: Describe yourself.
JR: I've always wanted to be different. Ask my mom. I've always wanted to stand out. I do a lot of crazy things. I love extreme sports. I love to snowboard. I surf, but not on the waves here in Hawaii. I skydive and bungee jump and do all kinds of other things that my mom thinks are crazy. I like to express myself. When I play well, I show it. When I play poorly, I show it. I am a very emotional player, and I'm not ashamed of it.
SI: Do you plan your outfits for the week or simply go with what feels right that day?
JR: I dress for myself. I want to be different, and I want to express myself with what I wear. My clothes are not the traditional khaki shorts and big shirts.
SI: And the bandanna?
JR: Everybody wants my bandannas. I gave one to an older lady in South Africa. She said, "I'm going to wear this with honor, Jen." I can't picture her wearing a bandanna, but she begged for it. --Bill Kwon
Greens hit in regulation (86 of 116) by David Toms at the Match Play.
SI: HAVE THE OLDER PLAYERS SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY YOU DRESS?
JR: THEY SAY, "YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN PULL THAT OFF. I COULDN'T PICTURE MYSELF WEARING THAT."