After winning its first regional title since 1986, the UF women's golf team had national championship aspirations.
Those aspirations quickly became depressed. The Gators dug themselves into a hole after the first round and weren't ever able to fully recover, finishing ninth at the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.
"We had a fantastic year," coach Jill Briles-Hinton said. "The team is disappointed, but we had to play really hard just to get to where we finished today. They just couldn't get anything going on that first day and we played hard the rest of the time through horrible conditions."
The Gators shot a final-round 299 to finish with a 72-hole total of 1196 (301-299-297-299) (+44). It was the fifth time the Gators have finished in the top 10 in NCAA play with Briles-Hinton at the helm.
Weather played a major factor in UF's performance in the tournament, as the Gators had to battle high winds and wait out multiple suspensions of play over the course of the four-day tournament.
But it was the poor play in the first round that made it hard for the Gators to regain ground on the leaderboard.
"The girls were ready, but I think that they came out a little bit too worked up and too excited," Briles-Hinton said of the first day of the tournament. "They did get settled down, but it just never clicked for them."
Fittingly, it was senior Tiffany Chudy who led UF on the green. Chudy shot a 2-under 70 on the day, which put her at 27th place. It was a personal best for the senior, as well as the lowest score posted by a Gator.
"I am so happy for Tiffany because that was just an amazing way for her to finish her senior year," Briles-Hinton said.
The Gators coach also expressed pride in redshirt junior Ornella Jouven, who had her worst performance of the tournament with a 77 on the last day but managed to finish tied for 34th place overall.
Freshmen Jessica Yadloczky and Hannah Yun performed well in their first NCAA tournament. Yadloczky recorded an 80 (+8) on the final day of the tournament to land her in a tie for 48th place, while Yun carded a 4-over 76 to finish in a tie for 65th place. Redshirt freshman Nicole Schachner carded a 76 (+4) during the final round to tie her best performance of the week and finished tied for 109th.
The ninth-place finish at the NCAA tournament capped an impressive year for the Gators. UF won five tournaments this season, including its eighth Southeastern Conference Championship and the first NCAA regional title in school history. The five wins were the most UF has won in a single season since the 1994-95 squad won five as well.