Stanford's Tiger Woods isn't the only college freshman golfer
whose career will likely be judged a failure unless he becomes a
PGA Tour superstar. University of Florida freshmen Robert Floyd
and Josh McCumber are burdened with similarly lofty expectations.
These Gators are not only the nation's next-best freshmen after
Woods, but also next-generation family members of famous touring
pros. Robert is the younger of Ray Floyd's two sons, and Josh is
the second of Mark McCumber's three nephews.
Excellent bloodlines may be a curse. With the exception of Tom
Morris Jr., who, like his father, won four British Opens between
1861 and 1872, and Willie Park Jr., who won two British Opens (in
1887 and '89) to his father's four (between 1860 and '75), no
next-generation descendant of an eminent golfer has ever been
nearly as successful as his predecessor.
``I always encouraged my boys to play golf, but only for fun,''
says Ray Floyd, whose other son, Ray Jr., is a sophomore at Wake
Forest and has yet to crack his team's starting five. ``I've told
them all along that it's overwhelming to try to surpass or even be
as good as a relative who's been successful in any profession.
There have been so many kids -- Nicklaus, Snead, even Mantle --
who've tried, and they all failed. The pressures are almost
unbearable. It's going to take somebody with great desire to
succeed, somebody who strives not to be equal, but better.''
That description fits Robert and Josh, determined teenagers who
desperately want to escape their familial shadows and someday win
slews of their own PGA Tour trophies. Those shadows are imposing.
On the PGA Tour, Ray Floyd, 52, has won 22 titles, including a
Masters, a U.S. Open and two PGAs, and more than $5 million. On
the Senior tour he has nine wins and $2.7 million in earnings.
McCumber, 43, has 10 Tour victories, including last year's Tour
Championship, and $4.5 million in earnings.
``No one's ever done it,'' Robert says of filling the shoes of a
famous golfing relative. ``I use that as motivation.'' Says Josh,
``It's a challenge because lots of people have tried and failed.
That makes it easier for me, though, because it gives me a goal to
channel my energy towards.''
Besides desire, Robert and Josh have little in common. Whereas
Robert listens to 2 Live Crew and Boyz II Men, Josh prefers Tom
Petty and classical music. Robert plays air guitar. In high school
Josh was a concert violinist and pianist who earned money playing
weddings in a string quartet called the Mozart Minors.
Robert is a quick-witted prankster who loves the spotlight. Last
July, after he won the American Junior Golf Association's
Tournament of Champions, he gave a lighthearted acceptance speech
at the awards ceremony. ``Rob cracked everybody up,'' says Chris
Haack, the AJGA's assistant executive director. ``Most kids are
nervous in those settings, but not Rob. The only other junior I've
ever seen with so much personality was Phil Mickelson.''
Josh, Robert's polar opposite, is quiet, meditative and mature
beyond his years. ``Last fall I was unhappy with the team's effort
and focus,'' says Buddy Alexander, the men's golf coach at
Florida. ``I told the team if they wanted to see a perfect example
of how to act, they should follow Josh around campus for a few
days. Do exactly as he does. It was most unusual to tell a team to
follow a freshman's example. But he's 18 going on 29.''
Last week Robert and Josh discussed their dissimilarities while
giving a visitor a tour of their adjacent dorm rooms. Josh's was
tidy -- his bed was made, his books shelved and his clothes neatly
hung. Robert's looked as if a tornado had just passed through it.
``He's Danny Noonan from Caddyshack, and I'm Ty Webb, Chevy
Chase's part,'' explained Robert. ``Both are great players, but
they go their own ways. Danny's set on college, the quiet type.
He's got one girl. Ty's the real smart-ass always searching for
``I am pretty straight and narrow,'' said Josh, who for several
months has been dating a girl who goes to college in his hometown
of Jacksonville. ``I came here to play golf and go to school.
That's what I do. I go to bed early, get up early.''
``Not me,'' said Robert, who has been unattached since he arrived
at Florida. ``The only thing I'll get up for in the morning is
golf. My dad had some playboy in him, and we're similar like that.
I guess I need a little taming down.''
Their academic goals are clearly different. Josh, who has a 3.10
GPA, plans to stay at Florida for four years and earn a business
degree. Neither Josh's uncle Mark nor his father, Jim, who serves
as Mark's business agent and as president of McCumber Golf, a
course-design firm, went to college. Josh wants to be the first
male McCumber to get a college degree.
Ray Floyd dropped out of North Carolina after one semester, and
Robert, who has a 2.56 GPA, isn't gung ho about getting a degree
or being in Gainesville. Last fall he was the typical homesick
freshman. The Floyds are a close-knit family, and Robert misses
the comforts of his folks' mansion in Miami Beach. At least once a
day he speaks to his mother, Maria, and his father. ``I miss my
bed, my shower, our Jet Ski,'' he says. ``Mostly, I miss Mom's
spaghetti and tomato sauce. If the University of Miami had a golf
team, I'd be there in a flash and living at home.''
One thing Josh and Robert do share is an intimate familiarity with
the PGA Tour. Like Josh's family, Mark McCumber's clan lives in
Jacksonville, and Josh and Mark are particularly close. They even
share a swing teacher, Mike Blackburn, who runs the McCumber Golf
School. ``I've always looked over Josh,'' says Mark. ``I've gotten
him equipment, let him caddie for me in Tour events. We used to
play together in the father-child tournament at the Disney
Though Robert has never caddied for his dad, he has played with
him in a few tournaments. Robert was in Ray's group in the 1994
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Last March, Robert competed in the
Doral-Ryder Open on a sponsor's exemption. He shot an
eight-over-par 77-75-152 to miss the cut by four shots, while Ray,
after sharing the first-round lead, finished 13th. Doral gave
Robert another sponsor's exemption to compete in this week's
Doral. He has high expectations. ``I'm gunning for a top-10
finish,'' he says.
Robert arrived at Florida as the country's No. 1-ranked junior,
and last fall he was named the AJGA's Male Junior Co-Player of the
Year. Josh had had a solid if unspectacular junior career, with
only one national title. In the past six months their fortunes
have flipped. Robert started preseason with a bout of the flu and
bronchitis, and he had only one top-20 finish in four fall events.
His dad helped him make some swing adjustments over Christmas
break, and his game and confidence are on the mend. Two weeks ago
he had his best college result, a tie for eighth in the Gator
Josh has been the biggest surprise in college golf. In eight
events he has five top-10 finishes for the 11th-ranked Gators. He
has been a runner-up twice, his 71.7 stroke average is tops on the
team, and, most impressive, he's the fifth-ranked collegian in the
U.S. ``My hours of work are paying dividends,'' says Josh, whose
younger brother Kort, a high school senior, has received golf
scholarship offers from several schools, including Florida. ``I'm
getting to the next level and making a name for myself for the
Coach Alexander knows it's not yet time to get excited. His
father, Skip, a Tour player in the late 1940s and early '50s, won
three events and earned two Ryder Cup berths in just four years
before plane-crash injuries ended his career. Buddy played the
Tour for a few years in the early 1980s but, like most golfing
offspring, failed to live up to his legacy.
``The determination of these two kids is mind-boggling,'' he
says. ``Robert's got his dad's fire, and Josh has Mark's intense
work ethic. For now, I couldn't be more pleased. But what happens in
the future, only time will tell.''
COLOR PHOTO:PHOTOGRAPHS BY BEN VAN HOOK A study of opposites: McCumber, left, is quiet and reserved, while Floyd is a constant cutup. [Josh McCumber with Robert Floyd, who is holding a golf ball up to his eye]
TWO COLOR PHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHS BY BEN VAN HOOK Floyd blasted through the junior ranks, but McCumber (above) has fared better at Florida.[Robert Floyd; Josh McCumber]