A stroke above the competition: a look back on George Cunningham’s career as a Wildcat
Arizona men's golf athlete George Cunningham takes a swing during the National Invitational Tournament at the Omni Tucson National golf course in 2015.
On any team, no matter what the sport, having someone who is “as cool as the other side of the pillow” is key for leadership and success. That person for Arizona men’s golf this season was senior George Cunningham.
Cunningham took this season by the reins and led the ‘Cats to one of the most successful years in Arizona men’s golf history. Recently he reflected on his time as a Wildcat.
“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. 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,” Cunningham said.
The four-year player from Tucson made his presence felt from the very start. In his first season, Cunningham earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 freshman team and the All-Pac-12 second team, posting a 71.6 strokes per round average. Additionally, he 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 was also a part of the roster that took first place at their home event, the Arizona Intercollegiate in late January. He talked about his ability to be so consistent this year.
“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 so successful, but Cunningham kept working to reach 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,” he said.
The hometown senior looks back on some of the team competitions during practice as some of his favorite times while on the team.
“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 also talked about the future.
“I have eight starts up on the Canadian tour and that will start right after the National Championship,” he said.
To complement his career-best stats and tournament wins, Cunningham was also named to the Pac-12 All-Conference first team and was voted a semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award. Such recognition comes as a result of a player using his final year to set a gold standard for himself, his current teammates and future Wildcats.
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