SAN DIEGO — By this time, Jamie Lovemark will have been re-introduced, in a way, to the North Course of Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Prior to teeing it up at the Farmers Insurance Open, which started this week, he’d only seen pictures of the newly renovated North Course.
But Lovemark, 28, who grew up in Rancho Santa Fe and had played Torrey Pines probably 20 times before turning pro, was already familiar with the North Course’s tricky ways and long, narrow fairways.
“It looks great,” Lovemark said of the photos he’s seen of the renovated course. He was speaking from La Quinta last week while playing in the CareerBuilder Challenge. “I thought it was pretty sneaky hard before, so I’m sure it’ll be even harder now,” he said.
Still, having the Torrey Pines Golf Course nearby while growing up, playing it with family and friends and going to past tournaments as a spectator walking outside the ropes, he does feel a certain sense of local knowledge to the course.
Now, walking inside the ropes on that course, in a field of great players, is really neat, he said.
“It’s one of the most beautiful and challenging and demanding courses on tour,” Lovemark said.
Though Lovemark is no stranger to playing alongside some talented golfers.
As a Torrey Pines High School golfer, he and his teammates had achieved a number of impressive successes.
“Torrey (Pines High School) always had a great golf program, so I was surrounded by a bunch of really great players…great competition. We had a good enough team to win state (in 2006), and always playing against the best teams in high school was huge.”
After moving away in 2010 to undertake his collegiate golf career at USC, Lovemark said he hasn’t made it back to his hometown as often as he’d like.
His family, he explained, all moved away at the same time he did, though he still has friends in the area.
Despite missing the cut last week at La Quinta, Lovemark is coming off a good 2016, and has placed getting his first win on the PGA Tour as one of his biggest goals for 2017.
Before La Quinta, he made five cuts in the six events he played in this year.
Last year he played in 26 events, achieving the biggest earnings of his golfing career, yet, including his best PGA finish — second place at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
He finished tied for 31st at the Farmers Insurance Open last year.
With most of the county still drying out from the heavy storms of recent weeks, a soggy, wet golf course doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to Lovemark.
“I’ve always carried it a long way, so it’s definitely advantageous for me to play a wet course. That being said, I’m sure the rough will be even longer and thicker,” he said. “There’s pros and cons to everything.”
And for all that talk of Lovemark making a comeback to his professional career following back surgery in 2011, he said he’s a longtime removed from that.
The surgery to repair a herniated disc some six years ago may have cost him a couple of years on the tour, he said. “I feel great now and golf’s a long career,” he added.
“I have to keep improving,” he said. “I’m definitely down the right path, so I have to keep getting better. All these guys out here are extremely good and the fields are so deep nowadays that anybody can win. The competition’s always stiff.”
The Farmers Insurance Open runs from Jan. 26 through Jan. 29. For tickets and more information visit farmersinsuranceopen.com.