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Monday, October 02, 2023

Here's what senior Billy Horschel thinks about his team being ranked No. 7:

"Preseason rankings don't matter much," Horschel said. "We're No. 7, that's what they say, that's fine. I feel like we're right up there (with the best teams in the country)."

The UF men's golf team will get the chance to find out if they really are among the top teams in the nation when the Gators start their season today at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga.

The five-man rotation playing in the tournament includes Horschel, Will Strickler, Andres Echavarria, Tyson Alexander and Toby Ragland.

Horschel's the leading man. He was ranked by Golf World as No. 3 on their "Top 50 Male Players to Watch" list.

"Hopefully I'm not the third best player," he said. "Hopefully I'm the best player in the nation. The same thing goes for me as it does for the team. I feel I'm better than the third best player in the world. I feel I'm the best player in college golf."

This past summer, Horschel competed in the 2008 U.S. Amateur Championships. Despite an early 5 and 3 loss to Andrew Landry, meaning he was down five holes with three remaining, Horschel is still playing confidently.

"Every new course you learn something new about your game," he said. "You learn new weaknesses, new strengths and then you just build on that.

"I don't feel like I have any weaknesses in my game. I feel pretty much every part of my game is pretty much a strength."

Coach Buddy Alexander isn't worried, either, about this weekend's tournament but knows confidence is something he wants his whole team exuding, not just Horschel.

Luckily, everyone except for Echavarria got some tournament experience last year. Three members of the rotation (Horschel, T. Alexander and Strickler) registered top-five finishes last year.

Even with returning players, coach Alexander isn't tooting his team's horn.

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"I think (the No. 7 ranking is) about right," he said. "I don't think that we can claim that we should be ranked any better than that. We appear to be a pretty solid team. Who cares about the rankings at this point?"

Alexander plans to keep his players humbled, regardless of the play this weekend.

"We can go up there and we can really play well and somebody might play better," he said. "We could go up there and maybe play mediocre and kind of brother-in-law it to where we cover up the bad scores."

With the season commencing, Alexander said it's still too early for predictions.

"I just want to see how we stack up at this point," he said.

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