STEVENS: Jodi Ewart's Goals as a Lobo Golfer Have a Hollywood Feel to them
April 2, 2009
THE EWART FILE
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Jodi Ewart's humble beginning in golf is the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. The scene opens with a panoramic view of the rolling English countryside and closes in on a grandfather talking his 8-year-old granddaughter into putting down the soccer ball and walking over to a nearby pasture.
In the movie, gramps might call the girl, "Heidi." Hey, this is Hollywood!
There gramps pulls out a golf club, tosses down a couple of golf balls, and shows the young girl the basic stance and grip and then allows her to pound the ball into the sheep-filled pasture. The docile grazers flee in terror as the white missiles go roaring past their heads.
"There were no sheep," said Ewart. "If there were, I might have killed a few."
Fine, Jodi, there were no sheep. But the rest of the story is pretty much dead-on as far as Ewart's introduction to the grand game of golf. The young girl continued to visit the field near tiny, Middleham, England. She continued to hit golf balls into the country grass. Soon she was visiting the local pro and began playing the game on real courses.
She liked the game. She got good. She got very, very good, won several tournaments in England and decided to make a go at it in an American college. She put together a resume. Made a swing video. Mailed them off to several U.S. colleges, including the University of New Mexico.
The cameras now zoom in on a Lobo assistant golf coach sitting at home on a snowy Christmas night. She opens the package from Heidi and casually tosses the DVD on to the huge stack of videos from other young girls chasing the dream of golf.
Then the coach decides to pop in the video. The camera closes in on the assistant's face. Her eyes go wide. Her eyes get bigger and bigger. Her mouth falls open. She has found a star.
And all that stuff is pretty much accurate. Well, except for the sheep and the snowy Christmas scene. But the Lobo assistant, now UNM's head coach Jill Trujillo, was truly wowed with what she saw.
"We get so many of those DVDs, that it's almost like Christmas (presents)," said Trujillo. "When I saw Jodi, I thought, `this girl is something special.'"
Said Ewart: "I had been looking at USC and ASU but that seemed like such a big change from the countryside of England. I live in Middleham, a really small town in Northern England surrounded by fields and sheep. I liked it so much here at UNM that I never visited another school.
"It was a little tough my freshman year because it was so different than back home, but I love being here and my teammates are my closest friends. It's difficult to go home for Christmas or the summer. But you have to keep the family happy."
Ewart is keeping her family of Lobos pretty happy, too, by swinging the golf club probably better than any Lobo before her. Consider a few facts:
-- Her current stroke average of 71.94 is 1.41 shots better than her school record of 73.35 set in 2006-07 - as a freshman. She owns the UNM career mark at 73.42.
-- She has tied Caroline Keggi's school record with four individual career titles.
-- She is the first player in Mountain West history to win back-to-back conference titles and she also has won back-to-back Player of The Year honors. It's quite possible that Ewart might be a four-time POY.
-- She already has been named to the MWC's 10th anniversary team.
OK, we had better stop here or you might think we are back to Hollywood embellishments of Ewart's skills. Maybe it's best to list a couple of dents in Ewart's English armor: 1- She isn't yet an Academic All-American; 2- Her short game isn't at a Phil Mickelson level.
"She should be an Academic All-American this year," said Trujillo. "She had a 3.9 GPA last semester and should reach 3.5 (cumulative) this year."
Said Ewart: "When I first came here, I wasn't into school that much, but school has become more of a priority. I want to get that degree and have a backup, just in case the golf doesn't work out. When coach told me I was almost an academic All-American, that kind of pushed me."
OK, Academic All-American status is on the way. Figures. But what about this short game thing? And how can a golfer with a 71.94 scoring average be concerned about her short game? Hey, Jodi, you can't always chip it in the hole. This isn't Hollywood!
Actually, Ewart's minor short-game woes are kind of a catch-22 problem. The reason Ewart's short game needs work is because she doesn't get to work on it much in competitive situations. She hits too many greens.
"I hit a lot of greens in regulation," said Ewart, No. 3 in college golf in greens hit in regulation. "It's easy to score well when you are hitting greens. I need to improve on the part when I miss greens. I don't get that many opportunities to chip and pitch."
Ewart's goals as a Lobo are to win a national championship, repeat as conference champ, repeat again as league Player of The Year, be an academic All-American and become UNM's all-time career winner. Not a bad wish list.
"Jodi has always been good," said Trujillo. "But something clicked in her where she wanted to be one of the very best players in America and she was willing to put in the work to get there. She has such determination. She wants to win everything now."
If this were a Hollywood ending, Ewart would reach all her goals. Heck, she might do it anyway.