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 smartass always searching for women."
"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."