The senior is committed to Florida Southern College.
Before his match against Braden River High, Cardinal Mooney High senior boys golfer Noah Kumar was carefree.
While taking a few swings to loosen up, he laughs with his teammates and coaches. He paces around the first tee, eventually stepping in, taking a short breath and firing the first shot of the day. The ball lands more than halfway down the fairway of the first hole at Laurel Oak Country Club. Kumar’s body language reads as if the shot was no big deal, when to most golfers, it would be the highlight of their day.
For the Florida High School Athletic Association’s top-ranked golfer in the state — as of Sept. 26 — it was meeting expectations, not exceeding them.
Kumar was not always at the top. Two years ago, he found himself ranked in the 2,000s by services such as Junior Golf Scoreboard (JGS). Unlike other golfers, who ignore rankings and focus on their game, Kumar decided to use them as motivation.
“I would say, ‘I want to get in the top 1,500,’” Kumar said. “Then the top 1,000 and 500 and so on. I have grown as a player exponentially, which surprises some people who thought I wasn’t great to begin with. I had a funky swing, but I was still able to score (low). Tightening up my swing made everything a lot better. It’s not where I want it to be, still, but I am able to score low, and that is all that matters.”
After a torrid start to his season, which includes an 18-hole stroke average of 67.33 and six consecutive medalist honors at various events, JGS now has Kumar ranked 92nd nationally. Kumar, who is committed to Florida Southern College, an NCAA Division II school, said his play has garnered attention from larger schools, but he has no plans to back out on the Moccasins. Their men’s golf team has won 13 NCAA D-II Championships, and is ranked second in the nation. Winning a championship there would be a dream come true, Kumar said.
Mooney boys coach Jay Nash said in a release that Kumar is only going to get better with time.
“He is so much fun to watch as a coach,” Nash said in the release.
That is because Kumar is not satisfied with where he is. Kumar is still making changes to become the best golfer he can be, starting with one area in particular.
“It’s all putting, for me,” Kumar said. “Some days, I just don’t see my lines. Things just don’t fall.”
That dedication to improving is what got Kumar where he is: With a chance to take home an individual state title. He finished tied for eighth (+2), four strokes behind winner John Dubois, at last year’s state tournament, held at Howey-in-the-Hills’ Mission Inn Resort & Club. It will be there again in 2019, on Nov. 1-2.
Keeping up his hot streak should bode well for the senior. Kumar led his team in the match against Braden River, shooting a 34 over nine holes and tying for medalist honors with Braden River’s Logan Veith.