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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Billy Horschel is back.

The UF men's golf team is grateful Horschel's busy summer and early-season struggles were only a temporary matter.

The Gators sit fifteen strokes behind defending national champion and host Alabama going into today, but Horschel is just two shots off the pace set by the Crimson Tide's Mark Harrell. Horschel is at ten-under.

The two-time All American posted a solid Monday by adding to a strong 68 in the morning round with UF's tournament-best seven-under 64 in his afternoon round at Old Overton Course in Birmingham, Ala. The effort vaulted Horschel to fourth in the individual rankings and helped stake the Gators in sixth place at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.

"We need for Billy to be pretty solid every time out," UF coach Buddy Alexander said. "He's been working on his golf swing pretty hard the last couple weeks."

The seven-under 64 is only one off his career best, recorded at last year's Preview Invitational.

Despite entering four rounds in red numbers in the afternoon, UF - which was fourth after the morning's first round - lost ground on a course that yielded a bounty of birdies. Despite this, Horschel's 64 was only one of three fired in the second round - including one by leader Harrell.

"I didn't expect to shoot 11-under and move to sixth," Alexander said. "Typically, scores get better in the afternoon, but I didn't think the scoring would go down that much."

Senior Manuel Villegas and junior Toby Ragland submitted one-under 70s in the afternoon, and freshman Arnond Vongvanij dipped below 70 for his first time as a Gator with his two-under 69. Sophomore Tyson Alexander's 74 was the lone over-par effort of the afternoon.

Villegas, who shot a 69 in the morning, sits in a tie for 22nd overall at the tournament. Ragland, who equaled his first-round 70, is one shot behind him tied for 24th.

Vongvanij dropped eight strokes from his opening 77 and is tied for 45th at four-over. Alexander rounds out the pack at five-over, having regressed slightly from his first round 73.

Alexander thinks opportunity still remains for lower scores and a higher finish.

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"If scoring is as good as it's been, clearly some people have made a lot of putts," Alexander said. "We didn't take advantage as much as we could have."

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