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Friday, January 28, 2022

This isn't exactly what the Gators envisioned when they took the course in Atlanta on Sunday to play in their last tournament before the postseason.

Before the event, coach Buddy Alexander said the U.S. Collegiate Championship would help set the stage for the SEC Championships.

If that's the case, UF's performance this weekend doesn't bode well for its chances this postseason.

The Gators finished the first round of the tournament tied for 11th place out of 15 with a team score of 8 over par.

"It's disappointing because I felt like we were going to get off to a fast start," senior Billy Horschel said. "We aren't out of it yet, but we put ourselves in a little bit of a predicament by not playing too good today."

The Gators are 13 strokes back of first-place Clemson.

Going into the event, the team was looking for a golfer to take charge and claim the fifth spot of its lineup, but after Sunday's performance, it looks like UF has other things to worry about.

Only one golfer on the team shot under par.

Horschel shot a score of 2 under par due to his success on the par-five holes. He shot three birdies on the day, all of them coming on par-fives.

"The par-five holes out here are the ones you've got to take advantage of," he said. "They aren't too long, so you can reach them in two shots."

Horschel was the lone golfer to have a solid round.

The other four golfers shot a combined score of 16 over par.

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Usually reliable junior Tim McKenney shot a 4 over par. Although he shot the same number of birdies as Horschel, McKenney struggled with seven bogeys on Sunday.

The teams participating in this event will be the ones the Gators see during the postseason. Nine of the top 10 teams in the nation are playing in Atlanta this week.

"We are just as good as those teams, and it's just a matter of time until we realize it or something clicks with the whole team," Horschel said.

With two rounds remaining and the weather expected to deteriorate, the Gators will have to improve their play drastically if they want to move up the leaderboard.

"The weather is supposed to get nastier during these next two days," Horschel said. "So we just have to go out there and grind away at it."

WOMEN TO START HOME TOURNAMENT: After an encouraging performance in the BYU Dixie Classic, the No. 32 UF women's golf team will begin its annual home tournament on Monday.

The Gators will be aiming for their fourth consecutive victory in the Lady Gator Invitational, which will be played at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

"We are looking to defend our title," coach Jill Briles-Hinton said. "We got some good teams here, and we know the golf course pretty well."

While the team will enjoy obvious advantages by playing at its home course, Briles-Hinton believes there can be disadvantages as well.

"The disadvantage is that you have a tendency to put too much pressure on yourself," she said.

UF will send out Andrea Watts, Jessica Yadloczky, Evan Jensen, Nicole Schachner and Marika Lendl to help defend its title.

This will be the first tournament Lendl has played in since she was forced to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in early February.

The first two rounds of the 54-hole tournament will be played on Monday.

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