Gordon Neale

Junior Gordon Neale finished the Southern Highlands Collegiate with a 2 under, good enough for a tie for 7th on the individual leaderboard. 

Alligator File Photo

Led by a spectacular performance from freshman Chris Nido, the Florida men’s golf team won the Southern Highlands Collegiate event after trailing entering the final day.

Going into today’s final round in Las Vegas, the No. 7 Gators sat one stroke out of the lead behind TCU. Florida had started off the tournament well, jumping out to a three-stroke lead after the first 18 holes. But the Gators struggled on Tuesday, shooting 5 over.

On Wednesday, TCU faltered. The Horned Frogs shot 3 over after carding team scores of 1 under each of the first two days.

Florida used the opportunity to flip the leaderboard. It shot 4 under on the final day, resulting in UF’s first event win of the spring season by a comfortable four-stroke margin over Texas Tech.

"The gameplan was to be really patient, discipline and pick the right targets," UF assistant coach Mark Leon said in a release. "The guys really responded. They came out super fast out of the gate and that set the tone for the day."

It was a tournament of highs and lows for Nido. On Day 2, he shot a 78 (+6) to card UF’s worst individual 18-hole score of the event. His performance swung to the opposite extreme on Day 3, where he shot 4 under – Florida’s best individual 18-hole score of the event.

"His value to the team is incredible because he's usually posting two great scores," Leon said. "He anchored us."

The Gators’ most consistent performer of the tournament was junior Gordon Neale. After recording a pair of 70s in the first two rounds, Neale struggled a bit Wednesday, shooting a 74 (+2). Despite the drop in his performance, it was good enough to put Neale into a tie for seventh on the individual leaderboard for the event.

Florida freshman Won Jun Lee put in the second best performance in the event by a Gator, finishing in a tie for 11th. Lee was not part of the Gators’ lineup, instead competing at the event as an individual.

Lee was followed on the leaderboard by Nido and fellow freshman John Axelsen. Both finished in a tie for 16th. Sophomore Andy Zhang finished in a tie for 20th after shooting under par for the first time in the event Wednesday.

It was a rough tournament for defending SEC champion Alejandro Tosti, who finished tied for 38th after shooting over par in every round.

The Gators won’t have long to celebrate the win. They’ll be back in action next Friday at the Schenkel Invitational in Georgia. The nine-day window between tournaments will be the shortest break UF will have in its Spring season.

Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at [email protected].