Victoria Lovelady is making her first appearance in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament this week at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The former women’s golf team member at the University of Southern California admits that watching the success of her former USC teammates has motivated her. Many of them are now playing on the LPGA Tour.
“Watching them turn pro and seeing them perform well has played a huge role in motivating me,” said Lovelady, who played as Victoria Alimonda as a member of USC’s winning 2008 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship team.
“My college teammates were Belen Mozo and Paola Moreno, who was my roommate for a long time,” added Lovelady, of Sao Paolo, Brazil. “I saw how good they were there and they helped me get better. It’s almost like we’re still a team and we still help each other.”
While the final stage of Q-school has two prior stages leading up to this week’s event, Lovelady says her preparation has been geared to culminate here at Q-school finals. She came to Florida two weeks early to play in two mini-tour events and to get used to the climate and the Bermuda-grass greens.
“My preparation has taken place throughout the whole year for this week,” said Lovelady, who turned 25 on Tuesday. “I think that we can only have expectations about the things that we can control. For example, I can control my pre-shot routine and my mind.”
Admittedly, Lovelady turned to Mozo for advice about the 90-hole marathon of golf at the LPGA’s final Q-school. Her former teammate reminded her of the importance of staying calm and focused for five rounds.
“After talking to her, I know that Q-school is not a monster,” said the Brazilian, who was a member of the LPGA Futures Tour in 2010 and 2011. “You’ve just got to do your best and see how everything goes.”
Lovelady also thinks it helps to be in top physical shape for the final stage of LPGA Q-school. Throughout 2011, the petite player spent time working on cardio exercises and walking. Sometimes, she played 36 holes in a day to push herself.
In addition, she played in professional tournaments around the nation to compete in different weather, and on different terrains and types of grass. Last year, she won on the Golden State Tour in California and played in four LPGA Futures Tour events in different states. This season, she competed in state opens, on the Cactus Tour in Phoenix and in the Florida-based SunCoast Series.
Mentally, she also began the year by setting some goals, as well as building in periods of rest to recover, both mentally and physically, from competition.
“I think you have to put your goals way higher than maybe even your capabilities, because your mind can go that far,” she said. “If you want to play golf, why not reach for the highest goal of playing on the LPGA?”
In her preparation for this week, Lovelady also has tried to simulate pressure on the course. For example, on the putting green, sometimes she will pretend that her birdie putt is for her LPGA card.
But while she acknowledges the importance of developing many areas in her game that could advance her on to the LPGA, Lovelady says there is one more key motivating factor for her – especially as the reintroduction of golf is set to take place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
“When I got here to LPGA Q-School this week, they didn’t have a flag up from Brazil,” she said. “I was told that it hasn’t been out here in a while, but I noticed today that it’s back up.”
Lovelady proudly notes that Brazilians Candy Hannemann, Luciana Bemvenuti, German/Brazilian Miriam Nagl, and most recently, Angela Park “showed us the way” and were important in the history of Brazilians earning memberships on the LPGA Tour. By the end of this week, she hopes to be the newest Brazilian for whom the LPGA flies her country’s flag each week during LPGA tournaments.
“Now, we’re trying to add one more name from Brazil to the LPGA,” she said. “I love what I do and I’m just going to go for it.”
- By Lisa D. Mickey, LPGA senior staff writer