Nick Pumford’s parents probably knew that their son would end up on the links before he was even born.

With six aunts, six uncles, both parents and an older brother that play and a grandmother who owns a driving range, it was inevitable that sophomore Pumford would find himself wielding a golf club at a young age.

At age eight, old Pumford began his golf career. He went on to win Division III All-State honors three times and to be a 2004 Michigan Mr. Golf candidate at St. Charles High School in Michigan.

The only question was when Pumford would get to make his first start for the Wolverines. After finishing second at the Wolverine Intercollegiate while competing unattached, the question has been answered.

He will start this weekend at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate.

The first word Michigan coach Andrew Sapp used to describe Pumford’s performance is “spectacular,” and there isn’t a better way to put it.

Pumford had a four-under-par score of 209 (67-71-71) and tied for a tournament-high 13 birdies in just his second tournament as a Wolverine.

Capitalizing on his long game off the tee by converting on his putts was particularly important for Pumford, who feels his short game is his weakness.

“The big difference for him this year than last year is that he’s putting a lot better than he has in the past,” Sapp said. “He worked really hard on his golf swing this past spring and summer.”

And the difference was obvious.

But despite his fast start to the season, Pumford has yet to prove himself completely. He hasn’t played yet played in a tournament where his rounds count toward the team score.

“He works really hard and is a good teammate to everybody,” Sapp said. “Now we’ll find out how well he’ll contribute from a scoring standpoint.”

With three consecutive tournaments coming up on the schedule for the Wolverines, Pumford will have a chance to establish himself in team play and possibly go on to accomplish his goal for the season – to play in the rest of the team’s tournaments.

But last year was a much different story for Pumford. He didn’t make any starts, describing it as a “learning experience.”

But it was the competitiveness of the sport and the fact that hitting the links is often a very humbling experience that have kept Pumford motivated to keep playing golf.

“It’s a game of highs and lows, and it’s the highs that keep me coming back,” Pumford said.

Even with last weekend’s effort securing a spot in this week’s starting lineup, Sapp said he’s worried that Pumford may get the jitters in his first event away from campus.

But there’s no need to worry. After all, the game of golf is in Pumford’s blood.

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