Andy Zhang

Sophomore Andy Zhang paced Florida on the final day of the Mason Rudolph Championship. He finished the afternoon at 1 over. 

Alligator File Photo

The No. 11 Florida men’s golf team has some work to do this weekend if it wants to defend its title at the Mason Rudolph Championship.

After the first day of the event, the Gators are 11 over through 36 holes. That puts the team in fourth place, nine strokes behind leaders Liberty and also behind SEC rivals Alabama and Vanderbilt.

“A very frustrating day for our team. So many birdies and good moments, but just way too many unforced mistakes,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “We've got to learn quick as the postseason is right around the corner.”   

Leading the way for the Gators was sophomore Andy Zhang. Zhang (-1) finished the day in a tie for fourth place on the individual leaderboard, two strokes behind Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein and Alabama’s Davis Shore. Zhang was the only Florida player to finish the day below par.

Two other Gators finished the first day in the top 10 of individual leaderboard. Junior Gordon Neale and freshman Chris Nido are tied for 10th at 3 over.

Freshman John Axelsen finished the day at 6 over, tied for 21st on the leaderboard. It was another tough day for senior Alejandro Tosti, who was the backmarker for UF, shooting 10 over and finishing in a tie for 46th.

Despite the struggles on Friday, Florida has plenty of chances to improve. Thirty-six holes are still to be played, and strong individual performances can give UF a reason for optimism.

“There is no question we have the talent and skills to be a great team,” Deacon said. “It's time these guys put it all together. I'm looking to see some urgency.”

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

Sam Campisano is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida men's golf team. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.