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Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Southeastern Conference had a strong showing in the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational this weekend, but excuse the Gators if they aren't too happy with their performance in the tournament.

Coming into the event, the No. 5 UF men's golf team was the top-ranked team participating in Statesboro, Ga. At the end of the weekend, the team finished in fourth place. Four of the top five teams in the field were from the SEC.

Despite being in first place at one point on Sunday, the Gators seemed to fizzle out on the back nine. The team shot 3 over par on Sunday and 6 over par for the weekend and ended the event five shots behind first-place No. 12 South Carolina.

"When you get close and don't win, you're always a little disappointed," coach Buddy Alexander said.

Senior Billy Horschel and junior Tim McKenney were the two top performers for UF. Both players shot 2 under par for the weekend and were tied for the fourth best individual score of the tournament.

"Timmy and Billy played well enough for us to have won as a team," Alexander said.

But the combination of a weak team performance and back-nine struggles did the Gators in.

"You aren't going to win with three (players with good) scores a day, and basically that's what we had all weekend," Alexander said. "Obviously I was also a little disappointed we didn't play a little better on the back nine."

Alexander believes the key hole for the team came on Mu Hu's 12th hole when the freshman shot a triple-bogey. Since only the four best scores of the round are counted for the team, UF had to count struggling Will Strickler's score of 4 over par instead of Hu's.

"That was probably the biggest factor in the golf tournament right there," he said. "If Mu had hung in on the back nine and we don't have to switch counters, then we are certainly in better position."

The team shot a combined score of 7 over par on the back nine on Sunday.

"Almost all of our guys hit a bogey in the last three holes," Alexander said.

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With only one more event before the postseason, the Gators are going to have to get back on track quick.

They will get their opportunity in their next tournament on April 5 in the U.S. Collegiate Championship.

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