MANATEE -- First came the reunion with a sports psychologist after a six-year hiatus.
Then came the putter switch.
Then came the success.
Manatee County resident Jodi Ewart has taken her golf game to the next level, earning full status on the LPGA and Ladies European tours at qualifying schools in the past couple months.
“I’ve been through a couple Q-Schools before,” said Ewart, a native of England who practices and trains at Palm-Aire Country Club and IMG Academies.
“I know what they’re like, long and grueling. Mentally, it’s tough to stay with it. Literally take every shot one by one. You really can’t get ahead of yourself, because that’s when you start making mistakes. It’s physically tough as well. Especially the European, I went five rounds, three days off and then another four rounds at final stage.”
Ewart relocated to the Suncoast after a successful career at the University of New Mexico, where she set a program-record 72.12 scoring average in 33 rounds as a senior and was a two-time NCAA All-American.
Ewart played in Futures Tour events and in two LPGA Tour events.
But it wasn’t until recently that Ewart skyrocketed to the top of every pro’s nightmare: Q-School.
The grueling qualifying tournament can crush a player’s dreams and rattle even the most seasoned veteran’s confidence.
Ewart, however, wasn’t fazed.
She recorded a tie for fourth to earn her LPGA Tour card in early December, before one-upping that performance with a victory at the LET’s qualifying tourney in January.
“One thing that I did do at both Q-Schools was I didn’t take any notice of leaderboards, which really helped me,” Ewart said. “Because you can get so caught up and so lost in the leaderboard, and you start thinking about what other people are doing and what you have to shoot. ... That was really my number one priority in both tournaments was just making the whole week about me and the golf course.”
Ewart, who boasts a steady long game, worked on her mental game with Karl Morris, who has helped several major champions, including Charl Schwartzel and Graeme McDowell.
Ewart said she worked with Morris back home, but hadn’t in six years until reconnecting with him in July.
Legendary golfer Bobby Jones once said competitive golf is mainly played on the six-inch course between a player’s ears. Ewart has transformed that area into an asset.
Another reason for her scorching form was the change to a belly putter.
The 5-foot-5 Ewart went to the new flat stick in November, about a month before LPGA Q-School.
She said it felt comfortable, and the change was made.
Now Ewart is tuning up her game for the upcoming season, which begins next week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne.
Having both tour cards is a special treat, because the LPGA has undergone several gaps in its schedule in recent seasons as sponsorships dwindle.
But Ewart has the opportunity to stay fairly busy, dotting her schedule with tournaments on both tours.
It’s also going to give her the chance to get immersed worldwide travel.
“I’m going to Australia and then New Zealand,” Ewart said. “And I’m playing Dubai. Everywhere across America. You can’t really beat it. I’ve never actually been to Asia, so I have plans to go and play in China and Taiwan and Korea events at the end of the year.”
For now, she’s focused and determined to keep her tour card and said she’d love to make the top 30 on the LPGA’s money list.
Ewart’s current form, though, indicate a player ready to burst into superstardom and win golf tournaments right now.