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Jodi's Journey - Jodi Ewart Interview

From amateur star to successful Ladies European Tour professional, the last few years have been a whirlwind for 24 year-old Jodi Ewart. The down-toearth lass from Yorkshire was one of the finest amateur golfers England has ever produced, winning the English Amateur Championship twice and representing GB&I in the Curtis Cup and Vagliano Trophy. Jodi turned professional at the end of 2011 and made the history books by becoming the first English lady golfer in 30 years to secure her Tour cards on both sides of the Atlantic – the USA and Europe. And she did so in style by winning the LET Final Q-School event. Not surprisingly, Jodi has made a smooth transition into the ranks of the world’s elite women players on tour and has had a fantastic Rookie season. Gi’s Carly Frost caught up with her

Gi: It must have been very nerve-racking trying to secure both your Tour cards for the LPGA and LET – tell me about those experiences
JE: I set myself two goals for the off-season at the end of last year – secure exempt status for the LPGA and win LET Q-School. To achieve both was such a great feeling and totally unexpected! Gaining my LPGA card was huge and then the pressure was off. I went to Europe with nothing to lose and already had the confidence in my game and played really well. It gave me a lot of confidence to win the final-stage qualifying for the LET at La Manga and that bounced with me straight out onto Tour.

Gi. Did you always have the ambition to be a professional golfer?
JE: Becoming a tournament professional has been a dream of mine ever since I started playing in national junior competitions when I was 11 – I knew that this is what I was meant to do. My grandfather introduced me to the game when I was eight years old after he bought me a set of children’s clubs for Easter and I picked it up straight away. I just loved the feeling of hitting golf balls and would spend every hour I could practising. I grew up playing Catterick Golf Club in the North East and I was fortunate to have a fantastic ladies section to support me.

Gi: You had a very successful amateur career playing for England, what is your best memory?
JE: It has to be winning the Gold Medal at the European Girls Team Championships – that was an amazing week. Also playing for GB&I over the Old Course at St. Andrews in the Curtis Cup was an experience I’ll never forget. Although overall I’d have to say that most of my amateur highlights came playing college golf for the University of New Mexico in the USA. I won five times on the college circuit and was named our conference (MWC) Player of the Year all four years. I was also a first team All-American in my final two years – the biggest achievement you can make as an athlete in a US college. Competing on the college circuit has given me a great grounding for my new life as a professional.

Gi: So have you found the transition from college golf to professional golf quite easy?
JE: They say that the first year as a professional is the toughest year but I’ve really settled into the lifestyle well. There is no doubt that my time playing college golf and travelling extensively across America and then turning professional and competing on the Futures Tour was an invaluable stepping stone. Getting a win under my belt early on made me realise that I am good enough and it reinforced what I knew – this is what I want to do!

Gi: What are you enjoying most about being a Tour professional?
JE: I love travelling the world and seeing new places. So far this season I’ve already played in events on the LPGA in Melbourne, Australia, in Phoenix, Arizona and Carlsbad, California in the USA. The LET has taken me everywhere from Christchurch, New Zealand to the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Hoylake, Liverpool! It’s been so much fun seeing new places and playing new courses. Luckily it’s not been too daunting as I have a lot of friends out here with me from college and my junior golf days.

Gi: What’s been the highlight of your Rookie season so far?
JE: One of the most amazing weeks for me was playing in the LPGA Sybase Matchplay Championship in New Jersey, USA. I knew I was one of the lowest ranked players in the field and would get a tough first round match so it was no surprise to find myself drawn against World No. 3 [at the time] Suzann Pettersen. What an intimidating player and amazing competitor she is! I teed off as the underdog with nothing to lose, there was no pressure on me and I told myself just to play my own game. I think it was that positive attitude that really helped me to stay focused and to play one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself. I just played fearless golf and attacked every pin. Winning that match and then going onto defeat Sophie Gustafson, another great Solheim Cup player, in the next round before losing to the eventual winner really helped me realise that I am good enough to compete against the world’s best players. It gave me a big confidence boost which I’ve kept throughout the season.

Gi: Did you set yourself any goals for your Rookie season?
JE: At the start of the season I said to myself not to get worried about the money list or finishing goals – my number one goal for the year was simply to enjoy the experience and enjoy the golf. I knew if I could do that then everything else would fall into place. When good results started to happen I reassessed that goal and thought ‘why not aim to finish inside the Top 50 on the money list?’ I guess it was a pretty high expectation, but I’m on target to achieving that. I always knew that once I was given the opportunity I would play well.

Gi: Do you see much difference between your game and those of the best women professional’s on Tour?
JE: There’s so little between all the golfers on Tour. In terms of my long game and my length off the tee I’m definitely on par with the best players and I’m happy knowing that there is little technical work I need to do to improve. My strength has always been my long game. I’m long off the tee and I hit a lot of greens. The difference is always in the short game, especially my putting, so I’ve been working hard on that and doing lots of drills set by my swing instructor is Andrew Marshall. I’ve been going to him for lessons since I first started and we are still a team today. I am always looking to improve my whole short game, especially my putting.

Gi: What about psychology? You obviously have a great attitude towards the game and amazing focus on the course, does that come naturally?
JE: I spend a lot of time working with sports psychologist Karl Morris. He’s based in Manchester so we tend to do Skype sessions when I’m away, just confidence building before tournaments and preparation for play. One thing I have learned is that you have to target and be productive with your practice – it’s all too easy to practice aimlessly and wear yourself out before a tournament begins.

Gi: How do you relax away from the golf course?
JE: Off the course I enjoy taking time out and doing other things. It’s always good to give something back to the game and the sponsors and I realised just how lucky I am to be healthy and playing golf for a career when I visited the Somerset Medical Centre in Florida with two other golfing friends earlier on in the season. I’m also having fun planning my wedding. I met my fiancé when I was playing college golf; he’s an American TV executive and was interviewing me. We got chatting on Facebook afterwards and the rest is history! I’ve not had time to sort everything yet but I have got the most important thing – my dress!

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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