Jonathan Hewett has carded a 73, 74, 72 and 71 in his last four rounds.
April 15, 2015
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Hewett is ready to make the proverbial charge up the back nine of his 2014-15 golf season and take his game to a whole another level.
Expectations for his sophomore year were ramped up after Hewett's outstanding rookie season that saw the Englishman record a career-best 213 (-3) at the USF Invitational---including a career-low round of 68. He had DePaul's highest finish (10th) at the BIG EAST Championship.
But an injury in January hampered him in the first half of the spring season.
"I was doing front squats when I lost my balance and strained a muscle at the top of my back," Hewett said. "I couldn't swing a club for a month while going through rehab. At our first tournament, I could swing properly but didn't have much practice time. My swing was no different, but the confidence was not there mentally.
"I was back to my normal level of confidence heading into our spring break tournament (Slomin Autism Championship) in Florida. But two days before the tournament, I felt that same pain in my back."
It was time for some extensive treatment while Hewett competed at the Fountains Country Club in Lake Worth.
"For the first two rounds, I did stretching, rehab and a massage one hour before and after competition," Hewett said. "I would do the same procedures before going to bed. I felt normal the final round of the tournament, and my score came down to a 73. Actually, if not for a few silly errors, I could've shot a 67 or 68.
"Until then, I didn't want to swing too hard for fear the back pain would return. I've been working out to strengthen the muscles around the back.
"At our most recent tournament April 4-5 in Jonesboro, Ark., there was no pain. I was back to my old self, driving the ball close to 300 yards."
Hewett recorded his best 54-hole score of the season with a tournament total of 217 (+4). He posted rounds of 74, 72 and 71 at RidgePointe Country Club and finished in a tie for fourth place for his fourth top 10 finish of the season. The third-round score of 71 matched his season-low total set earlier this season at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate.
For that effort at the Red Wolves Intercollegiate, the sophomore from Clacton-on Sea, England was selected BIG EAST Golfer of the Week.
"He has improved so much," said DePaul golf coach Betty Kaufmann. "It seems like he is in a better place mentally with his ball-striking. It feels like he is right there. I'm just waiting for him to break out.
"As a freshman last year, everything was new and there wasn't any pressure. Just go out and play. As a sophomore, you try to up your game. Sometimes, that's a little harder as you begin putting pressure on yourself to make that gradual rise."
That ascent actually began last summer back home in the seaside resort town of Clacton.
"Last summer, I played the best golf of my life," said Hewett, who frequented a golf course just a two-minute drive from his home. "Playing in tournaments across England, I utilized everything I had learned in my freshman year at DePaul and was shooting five and six-under-par. My confidence was so high that if I didn't shoot five-under, I considered it a bad round.
"Then, I learned a valuable lesson. I took a week off from golf and went out with my friends all the time. I wasn't getting proper rest or taking care of my body.
"Right after that, I came back to DePaul. My body was burnt out and I wasn't mentally ready to golf. It took me a while to focus properly and get back into the game."
There is an innate quality at the heart of his success. According to his Blue Demon teammates, the one word that best describes Hewett is moxie. Moxie is defined as the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage. It's a combination of skill, guts and nerve.
"I had never heard of the word before," Hewett said. "But I know that the big thing in golf is that last round when you've got a chance to win. A lot of people can't handle the pressure and they think too much. My teammates say I'm really good at chasing a lead or keeping one.
"My last two years I've been watching motivational videos and I'm not as afraid to fail as when I was younger. I'll take calculated risks and try a difficult shot when I know I can do it. I'm not worried about what others think, and I'm not going to back down from anything.
"I watch pro golfer Ian Poulter a lot and my dad always talks about Seve Ballesteros. Ian is very driven and aggressive on the golf course and Seve is very creative. I try to replicate all of that in myself."
DePaul's golfers are drawn to his sense of confidence.
"I realize my teammates tend to follow my lead," Hewett said. "I'll lead with my actions. Before a round, I'll have a little bit of banter to loosen the guys up.
"I don't want to sound big-headed, but everyone feels I'm the best on our team and they like to compete against me. If they beat me, I know I will hear about it. That's okay. The next time, I'll wipe that smile off your face.
"At 6-foot, 3-inches, 190 pounds, I have good size for a golfer. My swing is longer and that enables me to hit the ball further. My driving distance is about 300-305 yards. On a good day, I can hit it 340 yards downwind on hard ground."
Kaufmann realizes the kind of talent she is coaching.
"Jonathan is so good at a lot of things," Kaufmann said. "He has a great short game that is very creative. He is a good ball-striker. One of his teammates described it best when he said that Jonathan has moxie. He carries himself with confidence and it looks like he is in control of the situation. All of his teammates believe in him a lot.
"We have a deeper team this year where guys can take the pressure off one another. There's always someone else who can pick up the pace.
"At one point in the Arkansas tournament, another coach pointed out that we were in the lead at 5-under after nine holes. At moments like that, you can see the potential we have to go deeper and lower."
Hewett was on the Essex County golf team by the age of 14. He was among seven age-group finalists in the 2012 Champions of England Golf National Skills Challenge. He won the Clacton Junior Championship and was the runner-up for that tournament's men's championship.
Hewett was the runner-up for the Upminster trophy and finished fourth in the county order of merit. He was a two-time finalist for the British College Championship and took third place in the European Junior Open.
"My gap year when I took time off from education, I spent my time playing golf in England and had a one handicap," Hewett said. "I wanted to come to the USA and follow my dream of one day playing in the PGA. Playing golf at DePaul would be a steppingstone to that dream."
A college golf recruiting agency recommended DePaul to Hewett and his parents as the best combination of academics and collegiate golf. He contacted Kaufmann and was on his way to Lincoln Park.
"It's been great having Ashleigh Goddard and Rachel Pitman here---two soccer players from England," Hewett said. "My golf team classmate James Lelliott is also from England. This summer I might meet up with Ash, Rachel and James back home.
"Having someone from England on my team is perfect. I can talk to James about stuff from back home and we have little words and phrases that only the two of us understand.
"We use words like banter, massive and lovely a lot. When something is really good, we say it's absolutely pure."
Absolutely pure might be an apt description of Hewett's hometown. Clacton-on-Sea is a seaside resort town with golden sandy beaches, water sports and a Victorian pier with undercover amusements and a fun fair. There are pubs, cafes, restaurants, caravan parks and seafront gardens.
Large crowds of tourists are also attracted to a bustling shopping area, the annual Clacton Carnival and Clacton Air Show. Hewett's place of birth along England's eastern coastline is also the hometown to performing artist Sade.
"Clacton is a great place to live, and sometimes I take it for granted," Hewett said. "We are so close to the sea and there's a golf course near my home. Our house backs onto an open field and it is so peaceful and quiet."
Nonetheless, Hewett is ready to make some noise at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa Saturday and Sunday and at the BIG EAST Championship April 26-28 in Okatie, S.C.