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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

If the regionals were any indication, the Gators deal well with pressure.

"The pressure we feel is to win," senior Billy Horschel said before the NCAA Southwest Regional.

The No. 8 UF men's golf team lived up to Horschel's words by winning the event in Austin, Texas, its first tournament victory away from home since 2006. The team finished the weekend at 22 over par, just two shots ahead of second-place Texas Tech.

The Gators entered Saturday's final round in third place, four shots out of first place. But UF was able to ride Horschel's final round of 3 under par to victory and an NCAA Championship berth.

"This win was huge not just for our seniors but for the whole team," he said. "It was big for our confidence, and mentally it was key that we got this win before nationals."

The final day of the event was particularly tough for the teams due to inclement weather.

"We had about a two hour rain delay, and it was very windy and rainy," Horschel said. "But we were still able to get the job done."

He finished with a score of 1 over par for the event, good for the second-best individual score of the weekend.

While Horschel was the hero for the Gators on the final day, a different golfer stepped up for UF in each round.

On the second day of the tournament, it was junior Tyson Alexander's round of 3 under par that helped the team stay in contention for first place. He finished the event with a score of 4 over par.

"This week, we didn't play awesome golf, but we played solid enough," Horschel said. "Everyone played good."

But if the Gators are going to have success in college golf's biggest tournament, they will need improved play from arguably their second-best golfer, junior Tim McKenney. While he had a solid second round of even par, he struggled the other two days and finished 12 over par. In his previous two events, he shot a combined 28 over par.

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"His confidence is a little shaky right now, but we just got to get him playing well," Horschel said. "He was close this weekend, so hopefully in nationals he can play well."

The NCAA Championships will not start until May 27, but UF is ready to make a run for the title.

"It's always exciting when you get the opportunity to play for a national championship," Horschel said. "You have to be excited."

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