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Friday, January 28, 2022

The veteran-filled UF men's golf team is ignoring the issue completely.

The possibility that the Austin Regional might end up being its last tournament together will not be brought up.

"This will not be our last tournament. We have nationals," senior Billy Horschel said.

Before the No.8 Gators can advance to the NCAA Championships, they will have to finish in the top five of their regional beginning Thursday.

UF will enter the event as the No. 2 seed and will try to advance to nationals for the ninth consecutive year.

However, advancing is not the sole goal for UF. The Gators have set their sights on a regional victory.

"We don't want to just make it to nationals, we want to win regionals and go into nationals with a lot of momentum," Horschel said.

Other than its annual home event, the Gator Invitational, UF has not won a tournament since October 2006. This puts pressure on Horschel and his teammates to notch a first-place finish before the end of their college careers.

"The pressure we feel is the pressure to win," he said.

It has been 25 days since UF played its last tournament, but the team has used that pressure to stay motivated during the long layoff before regionals.

While the UF women's golf team was playing in the NCAA East Regional on Gainesville's Mark Bostick Golf Course, the men's team took a three-day trip to Tampa to practice a grueling three times a day.

"I wouldn't consider the long layoff a break," coach Buddy Alexander said.

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The Gators will send out Horschel, Tim McKenney, Tyson Alexander, Toby Ragland and Will Strickler to contend for a spot in the NCAA Championships.

"It's a veteran group of three seniors and two juniors, and they still have big stuff left to play for," Buddy Alexander said.

But those five will not bring up the inevitable end to a long and successful journey together - at least not yet.

"That will not be brought up until that night before the last round of nationals," Horschel said.

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