After posting 7 over par at the end of Round 1, the Gators’ worst opening round since the Tavistock Collegiate in October, the No. 2 Florida men’s golf team saw much improvement Tuesday during Day 2 action of the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas.
The Gators, who were one of three schools to finish the second round under par, rallied from Monday’s poor showing, overcoming firm greens and tough pin positions to post a 2-under-par 286, giving them a share of third place with No. 5 Texas at plus 5.
“I’m so proud of the guys turning our adversity (Monday) into a positive (Tuesday),” Florida coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “They came out really motivated, really focused and had a great warmup.
“All five of them gave it their all today, and four of them turned in really good scores, so we got ourselves back in the mix.”
However, despite the Gators’ improvement, they still find themselves well back of the lead entering Wednesday’s final round.
No. 8 Southern California came to play.
The Trojans (4 under) fired a blistering 8-under 280 in Round 2 to take a seven-shot lead over No. 14 Arizona State (plus 3). All five players in the Trojans’ lineup managed to break even on the day, including a 4-under 68 by Sean Crocker, who shares the lead with ASU’s Jon Rahm at 6 under par.
Once again, freshman Sam Horsfield had the Gators’ lowest round of the day. Horsfield collected three birdies and an eagle on his way to a 2-under 70, placing him in third alone and only a shot back of the lead entering the final round. Horsfield, a two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Week and Ben Hogan Award watch list nominee, will be looking for the second win of his young collegiate career.
Sophomore Alejandro Tosti, who was disqualified from individual play after signing an incorrect scorecard after Round 1, had a solid round, carding six birdies en route to a 1-under 71.
Although Tosti will not be able to place as an individual as a result of his disqualification, he will still be able to contribute to the team’s total score.
After an up-and-down, 1-over 73 on Monday, freshman Jorge Garcia’s uneven play seeped into Tuesday's round. His even-par 72 included three birdies, an eagle, three bogeys and a double bogey, giving him a share of 17th place.
Junior Ryan Orr, who had a difficult time navigating the Southern Highlands course on Monday, had a better day on the links in Round 2. His 1-over 73 rounded out the Gators’ top-four scorers. At 7 over, however, Orr remains well off the lead, residing in a tie for 48th.
The Gators need to play their best golf of the season if they want to come out on top on Wednesday. A win would not only earn UF its second win of the Spring season, it would give its second-year head coach a victory at the site of his former days as a collegiate golfer and assistant coach at UNLV.
“The greens are really firm and the conditions are tough, so we’re going to have to be very patient, but I’m looking for us to play our best round of the year (Wednesday),” Deacon said.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — except a first-place trophy. That comes back.
The Gators will need all hands on deck in order to make that a reality.
“I really think this is what we’ve been working for, and (Wednesday’s) going to be an unbelievable day.”