Coburn Big West
Player of Year
By Jesse Phelps
Golf is Jeff Coburn's game and
he recently added a new accomplishment to his resume. Last week
Coburn, who played for Nordhoff High School five years ago, was
awarded Big West Conference Player of the Year honors as the
number one golfer on a powerful U.C. Irvine team that heads into
Western Regional competition next week.
Coburn began the year with a winning score of five under par
at the Pepperdine Tournament in Saticoy. After going through
what he categorized as a "down" fall season, he picked
it up again in spring, saying, "I played well throughout."
Then, for the third in row, his team won its conference tournament
to qualify for the Western Regionals, to take place Thursday,
Friday and Saturday of next week at Washington National in Washington
"That's a big one," he said.
Coburn said his primary strength is accuracy on the drive and
his short game. "I favor tighter, narrower golf courses
that take the kind of long hitter out of play," he said,
"because I don't hit it as far as some."
He also said his team benfits from strong play from its three
"The second guy, Mike Lavery, is a really good player,"
Coburn said. "and Ryan Armstrong; he's also one of our better
players. The three of us are all seniors so next year the team's
going to be minus all three guys. So it'll be a rebuilding year
But that won't be his concern. The next stop for Coburn? The
"That's the goal," he said. He wants to start small
and work his way into larger, more lucrative tours like the Nike.
Those are "the hardest tours to get into," he said.
"Instead of getting onto that, I'd like to start off smaller
and build up my game. There are lots of smaller tours to get
onto. It's a good place to build up your game and get ready for
the PGA tour or the nationwide tour."
He said he'll aim intitially for the Gateway Tour in Arizona.
"You have to pay an up-front fee, I think it's $17,000,"
he said. "You gotta find some sponsors, obviously, unless
you're pretty wealthy. You're entered into, I think, 17 tournaments.
If you win, the payout is like $25,000. If you finish in the
top third, they pay out to those spots. You have to be really
good a couple weeks or be consistently pretty good."
Coburn says college has been good preparation. "It's just
all been a learning experience. The first year was just getting
out there, qualifying to play on the team. Just playing in the
tournaments and seeing how it is to play at the collegiate level,"
He admits that in his first year in college "it was a little
intimidating going out to the touraments and seeing all these
great players. I worked pretty hard through that summer and I
came out and had a good year the next year. I was medalist in
two tournaments in the fall and and that's when I realized I
could come out here and compete."
Now he says he's looking forward to making the pro tour and like
"any aspiring pro" he envisions playing on the final
day against the likes of Tiger Woods. "If you don't have
goals such as that, you're never going to get there," he
He credits local instructor Jeff Johnson at the Ojai Valley Inn
& Spa for working with him throughout high school. He still
works out with Johnson when he comes home from time to time.
And, he says, he appreciates the support he gets from people
"Whenever I come back to play at Soule Park, like this year
when I played the Ojai City, I always get a lot of support from
the local guys and that's well appreciated," said Coburn.
Ojai appreciates him too. Coburn provides a wonderful example
of what can be achieved through the combination of talent and
a little bit of drive.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
Coburn watches one of his shots land at this year's Ojai City
Championship, which he won .