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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Sure, the talk coming into UF men's golf team's spring season was about the Gators' depth, and sure, that noise in the system only got louder after their runaway win at the SunTrust Gator Invitational.

But Tyler Brown provided the best proof of that depth so far on Sunday.

The senior from Jacksonville fired a one-under 71 to tie for fourth overall and lead the Gators to a share of sixth place after the first round at the John Hayt Invitational.

Brown is a regular at Sawgrass Country Club, site of the tournament, and coach Buddy Alexander got what he wanted from him.

"He played solidly," Alexander said. "He feels comfortable here, and hopefully, he will continue to play well. That is what I was hoping for."

Brown sits two shots behind Georgia State's Joel Sjoholm. Junior Will Strickler, competing as an individual, also fired a 71 and is part of the tie for fourth with Brown.

Other Gators had less impressive outings, with senior Manuel Villegas and freshman Bank Vongvanij each notching two-over 74s, and two-time All-American junior Billy Horschel making as many double-bogeys as birdies - he had two of each - en route to an uncharacteristically high five-over 77.

UF sits at eight-over for the tournament, in a three-way tie for sixth, six shots back of leader Alabama.

Still, coach Alexander sees possibilities after a tough round.

"We didn't have a particularly good day, but we didn't play our way out of the golf tournament," said UF head coach Buddy Alexander. "We're still in it.

"If we can shoot a good round tomorrow, we can have a shot on Tuesday."

Sophomore Tyson Alexander, whose career-best came mere days ago with a third-place finish at the Gator Invitational, could key a good second round.

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At least, he should improve on a horrific Sunday. Alexander recorded six bogeys and three double-bogeys in his opening round, struggling to an 11-over 83.

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