By Tom LaMarre
Jamie Lovemark made the most of not quite earning his PGA Tour card in 2010.
Lovemark, the 2007 NCAA champion as a freshman at USC, has been selected in a vote of his peers as Player of the Year on the Nationwide Tour, golf’s triple-A circuit, and will be playing with the big boys next season.
“It’s helped develop my game, my personality, and just all what it takes to be a professional golfer,” Lovemark said of his season on the Nationwide Tour, which included his first professional victory in the Mexico Open Bicentenary.
The 22-year-old Lovemark, a neighbor of Phil Mickelson’s in Rancho Santa Fe,became the youngest player to earn the Player of the Year award and the money title on the Nationwide Tour.
Stewart Cink (1996) and Nick Flanagan (1997) each were 23 when they earned the award, and Lovemark won’t be 23 until Jan. 23.
Lovemark supplanted Cink as the youngest to win the money title by earning $452,951 in 2010, when in addition to his victory he was second three times, third twice and wound up in the top 10 on nine occasions while playing in 22 events.
“I’m first on the money list, but the win was the best part,” said Lovemark, who captured the 2004 Western Junior and the 2005 Western Amateur. “I think I’m scoring better. I’m making more birdies in a round than I did in college.
“This year’s been good for me, and it will be good for me next year, too.”
Lovemark left USC after his junior season a year ago and tried to earn his PGA Tour card, barely missing a two-year exemption when he lost to Troy Matteson in a playoff at the Frys.com Open.
Then he didn’t make it to the final stage of Q-school, but in retrospect he’s happy with the way things have turned out.
“Obviously it would have been nice to win the Frys.com Open, but I’m not sure I’d be the player I am today,” Lovemark said. “Losing that playoff motivated me to get better.”
Now he’s headed to the PGA Tour with a solid year of experience under his belt. He
will start at the Sony Open in Hawaii on week two and later will play in the Farmers Insurance Open, his hometown event at Torrey Pines, among others on the West Coast Swing.
By winning the money title, he also earned a spot in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Lovemark, a graduate of Torrey Pines High. “I’m looking forward to starting the year in Hawaii, have a great year, try to win, maybe make the Presidents Cup team. Those are my goals.
“Obviously, if I play well in the beginning of the year it might open some doors for bigger events.”
Like the Grand Slam tournament, and this guy has major player written all over.
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