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Monday, June 24, 2024

For the UF men's golf team, life without All-American Billy Horschel is a little rough.

Horschel, who was returning from Ireland after competing with the United States team in Walker Cup matches over the weekend, was unable to help lead UF over 36 holes of play at the season-opening Inverness Invitational in Toledo, Ohio.

The junior?s presence was sorely missed, as the Gators shot a combined 12-over 296 on the par-71 course in the morning round - good for eighth place in the 16-team tournament.

Sophomore Tyson Alexander led UF in the afternoon with a three-under 68 keyed by an eagle on the 11th hole. The Gainesville native matched his career-best single-round score.

Combined with senior Manuel Villegas' two-under 69, the duo helped the Gators regroup in the second round to fire an even par 284, second only to afternoon leader Florida State?s three-under 281.

The effort vaulted No. 4 UF to sixth place, leaving them 12 shots off the Seminoles' pace but only two shots behind third-place Louisville at the end of Monday's action.

Alexander?s 68 followed a five-over 76 in morning play. Junior Toby Ragland and redshirt freshman Robbie Wight followed 75s in the early action with a 74 and a 73, respectively, in the afternoon.

Villegas' spotless second round brought him to even par for the tournament and into a three-way tie for fifth.

It was his first time under par for a round since his first career win at the 2007 SunTrust Gator Invitational.

"Manny played solid for us today," Coach Buddy Alexander said. "He missed some putts, but struck the ball very well to give us a good, solid round."

The Colombia native now sits seven shots behind FSU senior All-American Jonas Blixt, who blitzed the course for a tournament-low four-under 67 in the morning and an equally impressive 68 in the afternoon.

Blixt holds a two-shot lead over another member of his threesome, Michigan State senior Ryan Brehm.

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The only Gator who didn't improve later in the day was true freshman Arnond Vongvanij, whose two front-nine double bogeys resulted in a nine-over 80 to go with his solid morning 73.

The Gators, who took home Inverness titles in 2002 and 2005 and placed third in the event last year, have substantial ground to gain over today's 18 holes if they hope to repeat to continue their successful streak.

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