Walking down to the 17th hole, UF assistant golf coach Steve Bradley had butterflies in his stomach. Imagine how Tim McKenney, who actually had to swing the club, felt.
"I'm sure he probably had some little butterflies going in his stomach," Bradley said. "It's exciting. He and I actually talked about it as we were walking down 17th. This is why you play golf."
Little or big, McKenney's butterflies didn't deter him from finishing second at the Duke Individual Collegiate in Durham, N.C., on Tuesday.
"I'm proud of how I battled out there," McKenney said. "I didn't exactly have my best stuff, but I was able to hang in there and got a good finish out of it."
It isn't first, but a second-place finish should do well to boost his confidence to qualify for UF's last fall tournament, the Galloway National Invitational in Atlantic City, N.J.
"I'm close," McKenney said. "I'm close to being able to play well in golf tournaments and get to our everyday lineup more consistently."
The second-place finish was the best of the three Gators present at the tournament. It also marked a career best for McKenney, whose previous best finish was a tie for 11th.
McKenney was in third after two rounds Monday and climbed up one spot on the leaderboard despite shooting his worst round Tuesday, a 2-over par.
The back nine proved to be troublesome for McKenney on Tuesday, as they proved to be meddlesome for the Gators throughout the tournament.
"I made a couple of bone-head mistakes that contributed to my higher score on the back (nine)," he said. His putting cost him a near birdie on the 11th hole, which he three-putted for a bogey.
Chappell Brown and Arnond "Bank" Vongvanij, the other two Gators in the individual tournament, finished tied for 13th. Brown dropped four spots from Monday after shooting a 6-over-par 77 in the third round.
"I know he was disappointed to finish that way," Bradley said. "He probably felt he deserved better."
Vongvanij had his worst round as well, shooting 5-over par.
Bradley said the tournament will help the players the rest of the year.
"You'd like to think that it will give them confidence," he said, "but more than anything they still got to tee up in the qualifying (rounds) and play against everybody else. I think more than anything it probably reflected some of the good things that they've been working on and some of the areas of their game that they want to improve upon."