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Monday, March 04, 2024

Conquer the fast greens, the elevation and the hills.

These are the goals of the UF women's golf team as it heads to Palos Verde, Calif., to open its spring season at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge on Monday.

Andrea Watts, Jessica Yadloczky, Lauren Uzelatz, Evan Jensen and Marika Lendl will participate in the first round Monday.

This tournament is not only special because it marks the start of a new season, but it also will test the Gators with the toughest golf course they will face all year.

The course offers several unique challenges the team is not accustomed to.

"It's a totally different climate. It's on a mountain, and the greens break harder than you would think they would because it's on a hill or because it's near the ocean," UF coach Jill Briles-Hinton said.

After a disappointing loss in match play to end its fall season, Briles-Hinton made it clear that the team's short game was going to have to improve in order to have a successful spring. During the off-season, the team took its coach's instructions and worked hard on that part of its game.

This grueling golf course will let the Gators know right away if hard work really does pay off.

"You go to the hardest golf course in the country right after you get done working on something," Briles-Hinton said. "You're going to be scared."

Yadloczky, a sophomore, believes patience will be the key to having a successful short game in Palos Verde.

"These greens are extremely fast, and just the kinds of grass that they grow there, it's different than Florida," Yadloczky said. "It rolls different, it's a lot faster and we have to be more patient."

Yadloczky doubts the team's youth - with two freshmen, two sophomores and just one junior - will impact the way it handles the difficult course.

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"Even though we are young, I don't think that should hold us back," Yadloczky said. "We have a lot of talented players."

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