Jamie Sadlowski grew up in St. Paul, Alberta, Canada playing hockey. He was a defenseman and spent several years playing junior hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He was the team captain for the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Sadlowski still had another year of junior hockey to go, but decided to turn all of his attention to golf after winning the World Long Drive Junior Championship in 2005.
“I didn’t look back after I won that first championship,” Sadlowski, 29, said Monday.
Sadlowski is a two-time winner of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, capturing back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. He competed in long drive events and also did a lot of exhibitions.
A year ago, he stepped away from the long drive contests to put all of his focus on playing golf as a tour player.
“I think that’s the biggest part of my game right now – I feel like I can play golf. I just don’t see one shot now. It’s multiple options,” he said. “And that all stems from being confident and knowing where the ball is going.
“I’ve come a long way in the last couple of months. The last couple of tournaments I’ve played, my bad rounds were anywhere from even par to a couple under. The game is getting better. Obviously there are a lot of improvements to make. But I definitely feel like I’m on the right track.”
Sadlowski accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa in October. The Safeway Open, Oct. 2-8, is presented by Chevron and will be played on the North Course. The event kicks off the opening portion of 2017-18 PGA Tour schedule and offers FedExCup points. The tournament will be televised by Golf Channel.
“I gave up long drive to one day hopefully play on the PGA Tour,” said Sadlowski.
He made his first start on the PGA Tour in May, at the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Sadlowski has played 10 events this year on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada. He also has experience from having played in some Web.com Tour events.
“Jamie not only kills it, he can really go low. It’s very rare to find a player who hits it as far as he can but still has the soft touch around the greens,” Jeff Sanders, Executive Director of the Safeway Open, said in a press release.
“He’s one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever seen. He’s a long driver. He’s a great player.”
This is the second year of the Safeway Open, which offers a $6.2 million purse, with $1.116 million going to the winner.
Sadlowski was a two-time winner of the World Long Drive Junior Championship. Moving on to the adult level competition, he has a career-best long drive of 445 yards.
He is very honored and grateful for the opportunity to play in the Safeway Open, which will have a field of 144 players, including Phil Mickelson, a World Golf Hall of Fame member and the winner of 42 PGA Tour events, and Brendan Steele, the defending champion
“I understand how precious those spots are,” said Sadlowski. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Hopefully the putter gets hot the week prior and it carries into the Safeway.”
Sadlowski missed the cut at the Dean & Deluca Invitational after shooting 73-77 – 150.
“I think getting my feet wet earlier this year at the Colonial and then playing a full year out on the Mackenzie Tour, I feel like I’m a lot more experienced now and I’ve learned a lot the last couple of months,” he said. “I feel like my game is in a lot better place from where it was even a month ago.
Sadlowski has a 70.78 scoring average on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada this year. His best finishes are a tie for 14th at the ATB Financial Classic, a tie for 24th at the GolfBC Championship, and a tie for 30th at the Cape Breton Open.
In his last event, the Ontario Championship hosted by National Pines Golf Club, he tied for 31st.
“There’s one thing you can’t teach – and that’s the professional rounds that you have to play,” he said.
Sadlowski said every part of his game has gotten better. The way he manages his rounds – having the confidence to hit different shots, shaping shots – has also improved.
“The last couple of months on the Mackenzie Tour we have played in some pretty tough conditions with some pretty heavy winds and some rainy conditions. Before, I’d step on that first tee knowing I’m playing in a 30-mph wind. I didn’t really like my chances. And now, I’m able to play in those conditions. I think just It comes with experience and having the confidence to know that your game is good.
“You’ve just got to go play. Every day is not going to be sunny and 80 degrees out. You’ve got to go out and play golf and manage your golf ball.”
He did not play junior golf or college golf. He said he is learning about the game on the go, adding that he feels like he gets a little better with every tournament he plays in.
“I learn a little bit more about myself,” Sadlowski said. “It’s one thing to tee it up Thursday on the Mackenize Tour, where there are not a lot of people watching and it’s pretty quiet. When you get on the big stage, there are cameras in front of you and people all have expectations. I try not to let that get in the way. There’s one person that has the expectations, and that’s me.”
He will play in the first stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying School, Sept. 26-29, at Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, Arizona.
Executive Sports Editor Marty James has been with the Napa Valley Register since 1979. He is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors, California Prep Sportswriters Association, and the California Golf Writers Association