UF coach Jill Briles-Hinton has had good teams in the past, but this team, she says, is different: "I've never really had an old team before."
The Gators are one of the most experienced teams in the nation, with four seniors - Sandra Gal, Tiffany Chudy, Whitney Myers and Eleanor Tucker - and a host of underclassmen with multiple years in the program.
What's more, after bowing out of the NCAA Tournament with a disappointing 10th-place finish at the West Regional last year, Briles-Hinton notes, "They?ve got something to prove."
Then there is true freshman Jessica Yadloczky, who will join that foursome at the season-opening Mason Rudolph Women's Championship in Nashville, Tenn., which begins today.
Yadloczky comes to the program with tournament play under her belt, having played several Futures Tour events in the spring and summer, where she competed with professionals.
BBeing in pressure situations with people who?ve done more than me, who are better than me, it?s prepared me,C the American Junior Golf Association All-American said.
But this UF squad is another situation entirely.
"I went out as the wide-eyed freshman," Yadloczky said. "I had to put away the new experience."
And she has, joining a team that Briles-Hinton says has "the potential to be our best team since I?ve been here, to win the SEC and the NCAAs."
Gal, the captain of this team and a two-time All-American, knows that the fulfillment of these high hopes will require hard work.
"(A championship) would mean a lot," she said, "But you can?t will it. You have to keep it to one tournament at a time, one shot at a time."
Her coach echoes the sentiment: "In order for us to be the best team, we need to stay within our games."
That message of patience will serve the Gators well. They recognize that paper never translates perfectly to the course, and they know that there?s much work to be done.
So they are scrappy, always pushing each other in practice.
"(Competition) forces everyone to work on their game a little bit harder," Briles-Hinton said.
And they are eager to measure themselves against the best the nation has to offer early and often, like this weekend?s field, which features the top nine teams in the Golfweek Preseason Top 30, including three-time defending NCAA Division-I champion Duke.
But most of all, these Gators are hungry.
"I feel very good going into this season," Briles-Hinton said. "They want to be champions."