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Wednesday, December 06, 2023

If you're measured by the company you keep, the UF men's golf team should be regarded in high esteem starting Sunday.

The team will be in Toledo, Ohio for the Preview Invitational along with some stiff competition.

"It's the best field that we'll play in the fall," coach Buddy Alexander said. "This is obviously the most important tournament in the fall because it's where the (NCAA Championship is) going to be played."

Senior Billy Horschel said the tournament will gauge how the team is doing.

"We need to put ourselves in a tournament where (there are) a lot of teams that are really good and have a lot of good players," he said. "It shows us where we stand alongside them."

The field consists of eight of the top-10 teams in the Golfweek Preseason poll, including No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Oklahoma State.

No. 4 Southern California will also be there, along with Chattanooga, which won the Carpet Capital Collegiate.

The No. 12 Gators tinkered with their lineup a bit by bringing in freshman Mu Hu. The five-man rotation will be filled out by members of the last rotation with Horschel, Andres Echavarria, Toby Ragland and Tyson Alexander.

The Preview Invitational will test the Gators more than the season-launching Carpet Capital Collegiate.

If UF is to have a shot at competing in this tournament, it will have to avoid a sluggish start.

"Obviously, if we get off to a bad start, we may discuss it a little bit," Alexander said.

With such a talent-filled field, a slow start may doom the Gators before the sun sets on the first round.

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But the team is sleeping well and isn't letting one slip-up haunt it.

"There's one thing that we learned at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, was that we can bounce back from a bad round and play well," Horschel said.

Alexander isn't abandoning ship either.

"I'm not ready to panic yet because we had one poor opening round," Alexander said. "We'll just hope that that doesn't happen again and move on as though it didn't."

The par-71, 7,255-yard Inverness Club also hosts the NCAA Championships in the spring.

"You don't want a team full of guys to go up there and play poorly and have a bad taste in their mouths, or a bad feeling, or negative vibes about this golf course that we're going to ultimately compete on for the national championship," Alexander said.

If history is indicative of anything, though, the Gators may not want to fly up.

UF missed the Preview in 2001 and won the NCAA Championship that year.

WOMEN'S GOLF: Time may not heal all wounds, but in this case it just needs to heal a 14th-place finish.

It's been 18 days since the women's golf team's last tournament and it will look to rebound with the start of the Mason Rudolph Women's Championships today in Franklin, Tenn.

Other teams in the field include defending champion Southern California and powerhouse Duke.

"This is another event with a very strong field," said coach Jill Briles-Hinton. "(The girls) can't worry about who's here. They just have to take care of business and just worry about themselves."

The team will have a similar lineup to its first tournament with the exception of Hannah Yun, who is making her sophomore debut.

"I'm definitely expecting an immediate boost," Hinton said about Yun in the lineup.

Joining Yun is sophomore Jessica Yadloczky, junior Brittany Nelson and freshmen Evan Jensen and Andrea Watts.

Sophomore Lauren Uzelatz is also making the trip, but will only be competing as an individual.

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