January 12 2011
HONOLULU -- Fresh off a season in which he became the youngest player to win the Nationwide Tour's money title, 22-year-old Jamie Lovemark enters his rookie season on the PGA TOUR this week perhaps with higher expectations than most first-year players.
He's expected to make a big splash this year. Winning a tournament this year, in fact, is a goal he's willing to embrace.
"One of my goals is to win an event," Lovemark said Wednesday on the eve of his rookie debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii. "If I don't win and I have a really bad season, not a lot of top 5s or top 10s, I'll be disappointed.
"Obviously, if I have a good year, a lot of good finishes but if I don't win, I'll be upset with myself -- but not disappointed, I guess you would say.
"My main goal is to finish top 30 in the FedExCup points, play in Atlanta for THE TOUR Championship. I figure if I play well, I'll get there. And if I win, I might get there. So I have those two goals in mind."
Lovemark actually has a previous brush with nearly winning a TOUR event. In 2009, after turning pro that summer, he made five starts on TOUR. At one of those events, the Frys.com Open, he shot 65-64 on the weekend to get into a three-man playoff with Rickie Fowler and Troy Matteson.
Matteson eventually won, but it was invaluable experience for Lovemark.
"I'm confident with the way I'm playing, the things I'm working on with my swing coach, (Sean) Foley," Lovemark said. "I'm progressing to a place I want to go.
"I'm not there yet with my swing. Hopefully by the end of the year I can get to a point where I can be a better ball-striker. But I know the things we are working on. It's given me a lot of confidence that I can play week-in and week-out."
Despite his youth -- of the 35 rookies this year, he's the third youngest -- Lovemark doesn't anticipate a long learning curve. He's made nine TOUR starts as a pro and eight more as an amateur.
"Playing an entire year on the Nationwide Tour was great for my confidence," he said. "Taught me how to compete, how to live life on the TOUR week to week and all of the ins and outs of traveling and building a routine throughout the week....
"I'm prepared as I can be." – Mike McAllister