Florida men’s golf coach J.C. Deacon has always preached the importance of preparation to his team.
He taught them that if they bought into his system, the results would come — and boy, did they come.
The No. 5 Gators are ready for the rest of the Spring season to unfold after blowing away the 15-team field at the Sea Best Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach on Feb. 1 and 2.
UF won the tournament, held at Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass, by a colossal 23 shots. The Gators’ 14-under-par 826 was the lowest score in the eight-year history of the event and the lowest to-par score by six strokes.
"As a coach, it’s nice for me to see some results because you work hard and you preach the attitude and all this stuff, and we didn’t get a lot of results in the fall," Deacon said on Monday. "For the guys to see how good they can be and to see the results and to have some fun winning … just for them to get a taste of what they can be like and what the future could look like was big for me."
Deacon said his team has bought into the process of what it takes to be successful not only as athletes, but as students, as well.
Freshman Sam Horsfield, whose 7-under total at the Sea Best Invitational gave him the first victory of his collegiate career, is someone who embodies the culture Deacon is trying to establish.
"Sam came in as someone who had focused on golf his whole life, and school was kind of on the back burner for him," Deacon said.
"He got a bit of a wake-up call early on in the semester, and he really ran with it. He changed his attitude. He embraced academics.
"Just as a man, the confidence that he gained in life from that and embracing something that he really didn’t want to do, you know, and getting a great accomplishment out it was huge for him."
But Deacon said it’s not just one guy buying into the system.
In addition to Horsfield, the Gators placed three players inside the top four at the Sea Best.
Sophomore Alejandro Tosti finished second while freshman Jorge Garcia and junior Ryan Orr tied for fourth place.
The Gators have something to build on now.
After winning their last two events going back to the Fall season, the Gators will be at home for their next event when they tee it up at the 38th-annual SunTrust Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course on Feb. 20 and 21.
Deacon said nothing will change about the way they’ll prepare.
He said his team is going to continue doing all the little things that have brought on their recent success.
"You can’t control the results, but you sure as heck can control the process," Deacon said. "We’re getting back to that process."