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Friday, March 31, 2023

For the UF men's golf team, hope is on the upswing.

It's been an up-and-down start to the Gators' season, highlighted by a third-place showing at the season-opening Inverness Invitational without two-time All-American junior Billy Horschel and low lighted by their bouts with inconsistency.

But the trend for the time being is upward.

UF is ranked No. 5 in the Golf World/Nike Golf poll entering today's Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate at the Old Overton Club in Birmingham, Ala.

The Gators will face stiff competition in the 12-team tournament: five of the 12 squads are ranked in the top 25.

Most notably is the defending champion, No. 2 Alabama, who is hosting the tournament.

The Tigers took first in the same Carpet Capital Collegiate that saw the Gators struggle to their worst outing on the year.

UF hopes to turn a corner in its season by putting out a formidable quintet that may be its regular rotation for the rest of the year.

Tyson Alexander, Manuel Villegas, Toby Ragland and Arnond Vongvanij will all join Horschel to give the Gators a mix of experienced leaders and talented youth.

Horschel will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 29th-place finish at the PING/Golfweek Preview Invitational, his first start of the year, after a disastrous five-over closing five holes.

Sophomore Alexander and senior Villegas will be making their fourth starts of the season, while junior Ragland makes his first since September.

Vongvanij, the only freshman on UF's roster, will be playing for the first time since the Inverness Invitational.

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