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Sunday, October 01, 2023

After beating Coastal Carolina in a morning conclusion to Sunday's darkness-postponed quarterfinal, the UF men's golf team was unable to defeat UCLA on Monday.

The Bruins rallied on the closing holes in individual matches to win the afternoon semifinal against the Gators at the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championships in Greensboro, Ga.

Coach Buddy Alexander's ninth-seeded squad won just one of its five matches against the fourth-seeded Bruins, finishing 1-3-1 on the afternoon.

The proximity to victory makes the defeat that much more frustrating to the Gators.

"We just didn't get it done today," Alexander said. "We dropped three matches that we had the lead in with five holes to play."

One of those matches featured two-time All-American Billy Horschel and UCLA's Erik Flores. While Horschel led or tied Flores for much of the match, he lost the lead during the 15th hole and succumbed - falling 3 and 1.

Arnond Vongvanij, a freshman who has received substantial playing time this fall, never had the lead against Kevin Chappell, who is ranked No. 5 in Golfweek's collegiate ratings. Vongvanij kept the match close despite losing 3 and 2.

Senior Manuel Villegas seized a lead on the 14th hole against UCLA's James Lee but faltered during the next two holes and lost 1 up.

The Gators, however, had a few bright spots. Junior Toby Ragland recorded the only win of the afternoon after he held a one-hole lead for 15 of 18 holes, edging Jason Kang 1 up. Senior Tyler Brown, in his first outing of the season, halved his match with Phillip Francis.

Alexander did see some positives in the team's persistence despite the disappointing loss.

"We didn't give it away, by any means," Alexander said. "UCLA is one of the best teams out here."

The Gators will have a shot at redemption Tuesday against Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina in the third-place match.

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