ORLANDO, Fla. – It hasn’t been a smooth transition to the PGA Tour for Jamie Lovemark, but he appears to have finally found his footing.
In the midst of a successful season, Lovemark has opened the Arnold Palmer Invitational with consecutive rounds of 68. At 8 under, the 28-year-old is near the top of the leaderboard at the halfway point, five shots behind leader Jason Day.
Long billed as one of the best athletes in golf, Lovemark burst onto the scene at the 2010 Frys.com Open, where he played on a sponsor exemption before losing in a playoff that also included Rickie Fowler. But he underwent back surgery shortly thereafter and has spent the last several years bouncing between the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour.
After clinching his card via the developmental circuit last summer, Lovemark parlayed a strong showing at the Web.com Tour Finals into a solid start to the wraparound season. He has five top-25 finishes in 12 starts, highlighted by a T-6 finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Lovemark credited the turnaround to recent work with swing coach Chris Como, as the two have focused heavily on Lovemark’s short game, given his natural prowess off the tee.
“I’m not sure what the stats say, but I hit it far and I want to say decently accurate,” Lovemark said. “As far as I hit it, reaching a lot of par-5s in two, I have a lot of scrambling shots around the green. So Chris and I have put in some work, and I’m swinging it a lot better than I have the last three or four years. Much more consistent.”
Lovemark has won twice before on the Web.com Tour, most recently in 2013, but he remains in search of his first PGA Tour victory. Despite a strong start, he knows that it will take a significant effort to catch up to Day, whose 13-under total is one shot off the tournament record.
“I’ll have to make a lot of birdies. He’s certainly making a ton. I mean, 13 under with a double, he’s playing great,” Lovemark said. “He’s one of the best players in the world for a reason, but there’s still a lot of golf left for the both of us.”