The Florida women’s golf team started its Spring season on an explosive note after going club-to-club with other Florida teams in the Florida Challenge tournament on Monday.
UF ended the day in first place out of five teams with a final score of 5 under par at the Black Diamond Ranch Quarry Course in Lecanto, Florida.
"It was a real team effort today and it’s great to come away with the win," UF coach Emily Glaser said in a release. "The team played with a lot of heart."
Florida State came in second at 7 over par, and Central Florida rounded out the top three with a score of 24 over par.
Taking to the green for the Gators were freshman Sam Wagner, sophomore Taylor Tomlinson and juniors Maria Torres, Karolina Vlckova, and Kelly Grassel.
Florida went into the tournament ranked No. 12 after an impressive performance at the 2015 Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, Texas, before winter break, where it saw stellar performances from Torres and Vlckova. Torres scored 6 under par, which landed her in first place. Vlckova tied for second with a score of 1 under par.
However, with tougher competition, the pair did not see the same results on Monday. Torres finished the day 1 under par, placing her seventh overall. Similarly, Vlckova finished 4 over par, landing in tenth place.
Fortunately for the Gators, Grassel and Tomlinson more than made up for it, tying for first. Both finished the day 3 under par, claiming a victory for Florida.
"I’m glad that we started off this way," Grassel said in a release. "I think it definitely gives us a lot of confidence to keep working hard."
However, the day did not start out well for UF’s squad.
The Gators found themselves trailing Florida State after the first round 287-285. Florida State’s Lydia Gumm and Matilda Castren led the tournament with scores of 3 under par each.
It was in the second round that the Gators turned the tournament in their favor. Grassel stayed consistent throughout the second round, only dropping from 2 under par to 1 under par and finishing 3 under par for the day.
However, the biggest second-round push came from Tomlinson. The sophomore, who tied for sixth at Florida’s last tournament, improved from 1 over par to an impressive 4 under par in the second round. Her performance was enough to land her in a first-place tie at day’s end at 3 under par.
Three Gators also played in the tournament as individuals: senior Laura Kanouse, junior Sydney Needham and freshman Madison Pacheco. Needham lead the trio thanks to a second-round improvement, ending the day at 3 over par.
Florida continues play against Ohio State in the Northrop Regional Challenge on Sunday.
Follow Alfredo Morales on Twitter @amorales_95.