Following UF’s decisive first-place victory at the Florida Challenge last week, the Gators have their eyes set on a larger prize.
However, before the No. 12 Florida women’s golf team can claim its second victory of the Spring season, it must rise above 15 other teams at this year’s Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, California.
It has not been an easy contest for the Gators thus far, as they teed off against 15 other teams including No. 1 Southern California, No. 2 Duke, No. 6 UCLA and No. 9 Oklahoma State.
Florida ended Round 2 of the tournament in third place with a score of 10 over par. After junior Kelly Grassel and freshman Sam Wagner led the Gators’ charge in Sunday’s first round, both saw a slip in play, falling 20 spots and nine spots, respectively.
"I’m proud of this team today and how they fought all the way to the end," UF assistant coach Janice Olivencia said in a release.
"We let a couple slip by at the beginning, but we stayed focused and were determined to finish strong."
Grassel, finding herself in 26th place at the end of Monday’s round, is now tied with sophomore Taylor Tomlinson, who crawled up 16 spots by the second round’s end.
But Tomlinson was not the only one who improved in the second round. The seasoned pair of Maria Torres and Karolina Vlckova are now leading the Gators going into the third-round battle.
Torres jumped an impressive 21 spots, improving from 4 over par to even in the two rounds. Meanwhile, Vlckova held steadfast, scoring a consistent 1 over par in both rounds — enough to land her in the top 10.
Florida has struggled at this particular competition in recent years. Two years ago, Florida went home with a disappointing 14th-place finish out of 16 teams.
Torres and Vlckova placed 38th and 83rd, respectively.
While last year’s lineup saw improvement — landing 10th out of 16 — it was not enough to crack the top half of the leaderboard. Torres once again placed 38th while Vlckova improved to 44th place.
The duo is now back at the Palos Verdes Golf Club along with Grassel, Tomlinson and Wagner.
UF will need a resurgence from both the veterans and the newcomers to overcome No. 11 Alabama and No. 14 Washington, who are tied for first and leading by a score of 5 over par.
Round 3 begins today at 11:30 a.m.
"We are excited about tomorrow since we’re still in it," Olivencia said.
"Our plan is to be ready for the challenge and play the way we know how to play."