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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A stroke above the competition: a look back on George Cunningham’s career as a Wildcat

On any sports team, having someone who is “as cool as the other side of the pillow” is key for team leadership and success. That person for Arizona men’s golf this season was senior George Cunningham. 

Cunningham his final year by the reins and led the ‘Cats to one of the most successful seasons in Arizona men’s golf history. Cunningham reflected on his time as a Wildcat and how he made this year his best.

“For the last four years I’ve had my ups and downs as a player and the team has had the same. But to be able to call myself a Wildcat means so much to me,” Cunningham said. “The history of this program is unbelievable and I am able to put my name with so many great players who have played before me.” 

The four-year player from Tucson made his presence felt from the very start. As a freshman, Cunningham earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team, the All-Pac-12 Second Team and posted a 71.6 strokes per round average. To go along with, that Cunningham finished the 2014-2015 season with six top-10 finishes and nine top-20 finishes. In his sophomore and junior years, Cunningham continued to rake in the top-10 finishes and served as a player who consistently led the team each tournament.

“I have been able to learn so much about myself from my golf game. I have been able to learn how to gain confidence when it’s hard to find any and what makes me tick at the right moments. I’ve matured so much over my four years from being a better leader for my teammates and being a better person in general,” Cunningham said. 

Cunningham saved his best best for last, putting up some historic numbers in his senior year. This season, he shined on the course posting a 70.19 scoring average per round, the second lowest single season scoring average in program history, according to Arizona Athletics.

Cunningham highlighted the season by winning the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, tying for first place at the Western Intercollegiate and tying for second place at the Pac-12 Championships. The senior helped the ‘Cats earn first place at their home event, the Arizona Intercollegiate in late January. 

Cunningham’s ability to be a consistent golfer throughout the year was key for his daily mindset and his team’s success as well.

“It felt great, it just gives me confidence going into regionals and helps with my confidence going forward as a player,” Cunningham said. 

His four years as a golfer at Arizona weren’t always marked with success as he battled injuries and getting his swing back in form, but Cunningham kept grinding to stay at the top of his game.

“I’ve struggled a lot with my game and a few injuries and have learned to persevere through it all,” the senior said.

The hometown senior reflected back on some of the team competitions during practice as some of his favorite times while on the team. What stood out to him most was finally helping the program win a team event, the Arizona Intercollegiate, something that hadn’t happened since 2012. 

“My favorite memory was winning our home event this semester, it was the first team win for me since I’ve been at the school and it was so much fun,” Cunningham said.

Now that the NCAA season he his collegiate career has come to a close, Cunningham will travel north to Canada to hit the courses next. 

“I have eight starts up on the Canadian tour and that will start right after the National Championship” Cunningham said. 

To complement his career best stats and tournament wins, Cunningham also was named to the Pac-12 All Conference First Team and was voted a semifinalist for the prestigious Jack Nicklaus Award. Cunningham used his final year to set a gold standard as a golfer for his current teammates and future Wildcats to come. 

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