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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Jordan Gumberg on par for prolific career

When Arizona men’s sophomore golf player Jordan Gumberg transferred from Tennessee to the Old Pueblo, there were two reasons:

He wanted to emerge as the top competitor in the Pac-12 Conference and he wanted to get away from the cold climate.

Gumberg is used to the heat, albeit a different kind. He hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was named All-County First Team by the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel in high school.

Playing under the South Beach sun and palm trees are traits that Gumberg values in course conditions, so coming to Arizona provided a bit of a transition.

“We had a really brutal winter last year in Tennessee and being from South Florida, I don’t do well in snow, so that was one of the reasons why I transferred,” Gumberg said. “The talent down there can also be more challenging to break through as a player.”

Being the new guy on the block can also bring distractions to a player. Even though golf is viewed as an individual sport, the performance of the team is viewed via overall scores.

Intercollegiate golf is in fact a team sport and when Gumberg first arrived on campus, he was too worried about how he was portrayed as a player, according to Arizona head coach Jim Anderson.

“It wasn’t necessarily off-the-field issues,” Anderson said. “But Jordan was focused on who was watching him or what kind of clubs he was using, so the mental portion of the game wasn’t all there.”

Assistant coach Chris Nallen helped Gumberg shy away from his public image to focus instead on the game. Of course, being the new player with experience, Gumberg wanted to showcase his talent and prove he could play and compete in the Pac-12.

“[Gumberg] and [Nallen] have worked together over the course of the season to take his mind off of those distractions, and it’s definitely shown, which is refreshing for our team,” Anderson said.

As the Wildcats prepare for their next tournament, Gumberg is walking taller than usual after becoming co-champion of the Wyoming Cowboy Classic last week. He shot a 67 in the final round, pushing his overall score to 205 strokes by shooting 11 under par.

Gumberg became the first Wildcat since Tarquin MacManus in 2011 to win an individual tournament.

“I played solid all week and had a game plan, and I think I executed it well,” Gumberg said. “No one at Arizona has experienced that in a while and my teammates and coaches were very supportive for my first collegiate win. It was a huge accomplishment for me as a player.”

The complexity of a new star player taking over the reigns as the leader on the team when the current premiere player stews behind the ropes can cause tension, but it can also set up a brighter future for the program.

That’s been the case at Arizona.

George Cunningham, after a breakout freshman campaign that included making the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team, has taken a step back this season, which aided Gumberg’s success.

“George has been battling injuries recently and particularly in his back, so he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy,” Anderson said. “But if we can get him back to bigger places than last season, then we have a great chance of adding that nice one-two punch with Jordan.”

Regardless, Gumberg showed he’s capable of molding into Anderson’s right-hand man while Cunningham rehabilitates, in order to help the Wildcats in the postseason.

“I view myself as a leader, but on the other side, we all have to view ourselves as leaders because we all bring something different to the table,” Gumberg said. “I’m ready to improve and close out the regular season because we [have] conference championships coming up and that’s huge for us.”


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