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Saturday, June 15, 2024

UF women's golf coach Jill Briles-Hinton said her team played its second round at the Northrop Grumman Challenge in beautiful, sunny weather in Palos Verdes, Ca., far removed from the gloomy skies of Gainesville.

The Gators can be pardoned for thinking they too weathered a storm.

On a day when only one golfer, Southern California's Belen Mozo, finished under par, No. 6 UF fired a combined seven-over 291 and held fast to third place.

And it could have been even better. Freshman Jessica Yadloczky was assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving her ball on the 18th green and ended up with a one-over 72 for Tuesday putting her at one-over for the tournament.

Without the penalty, Yadloczky would have been tied with Taylore Karle of Pepperdine, the only player under par through 36 holes, and her Gators would sit just one shot behind leader USC.

But Briles-Hinton lauded her decision.

"She just moved her ball a fraction, didn't quite understand the rule, then thought it might have been a problem and brought it to my attention.

"Some people would've done it and hoped nobody saw it," Briles-Hinton said. "She did the right thing."

And Yadloczky's conscience is clear. "Golf is an honest game," she said. "There's no way in the world I would hold it back."

"She ended up with a 72 instead of a DQ," Briles-Hinton added. "I'm proud of her."

Disqualification would have been painful, as Yadloczky may be playing the best golf of her young UF career, something she attributes to an unorthodox Briles-Hinton tactic last week.

"She took us to mini-golf," at Gainesville's Skate Station Funworks, Yadloczky said, "to practice for these greens. (On some holes), we couldn't leave until we made two holes-in-one in a row.

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"It sounds crazy," the freshman admits, but it's working. "I am playing great, putting better than I ever have.

"A lot of credit goes to Coach for her creative preparation for this tournament."

That preparation is paying off for the whole team, as seniors Tiffany Chudy and Whitney Myers and freshman Hannah Yun all shot two-over 73s to make UF the only school without a qualifying score of 74 or higher on Tuesday.

Briles-Hinton credits the team's depth for its performance. "We're fortunate to have five, six, seven young ladies who shoot these numbers, and the girls can be confident that if they're not playing well, someone can back them up."

Her Gators don't appear likely to back down.

"They're getting the job done," Briles-Hinton said.

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