News & ToursMay 2, 2016

Jamie Lovemark has lost can't-miss label, but potential remains

Long past the expiration date on the can’t-miss label he wore at the outset of his professional career, Jamie Lovemark is still demonstrating that he can miss.

Lovemark, 28, missed a 10-foot birdie putt to win, left it short, on the last hole of regulation in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Monday. He missed another 10-footer there to win on the first hole of a playoff with Brian Stuard and Byeong-Hun An.

Mostly, he missed an opportunity to put behind him years of unremarkable golf, albeit much of it the result of a herniated disc in his back, and to begin to deliver on the potential he brought to professional golf in 2009.

Getty Images


Stuard, 33 and a journeyman with only conditional status on the PGA Tour, won on the second playoff hole by hitting his third shot to the par-5 18th hole to two feet for a tap-in birdie. Lovemark, meanwhile, hit a perfect drive, then hit his second long and left and made par. Again.

“I hit a great drive on the second [playoff] hole and just kind of double-crossed myself,” Lovemark said of his second shot there. “Had a pretty good number to carry that front bunker and hit a bad shot. He hit an incredible shot from 160 yards. Very deserving.”

The double-cross has largely defined his career to date. Lovemark won the NCAA individual championship as a USC freshman in 2007 and was the Jack Nicklaus Award winner as national player of the year. Later that summer, he was 3-0 to lead a U.S. team that included Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson to victory in the Walker Cup.

He was the golden boy, with a laid-back demeanor that bespoke his San Diego roots. He surfs, enjoys throwing a football around or shooting hoops. He has been known to travel with his guitar.

“We have so much time in the hotel it’s a good little hobby,” he said a few years ago. “Once I’m off the golf course I really don’t think about golf much. Instead of just sitting there watching TV and being a couch potato, it’s something productive.”

Only his career has been off-key, thought the chords finally seem to be falling into place. The potential remains and Lovemark is gaining on fulfilling it. His runner-up finish on Monday was his fifth top-10 in 16 starts this season and was his first top-three finish since he lost the Open in a playoff in 2009.

Though he has demonstrated he can miss, he is beginning to remind those that concluded he can’t miss why they had done so way back when.


More from The Loop