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Friday, January 28, 2022

The Gators entered the NCAA Championships full of confidence after a win at the Southwest Regional, but that quickly changed as a dismal first round left the team searching for its swagger.

Unfortunately, the No. 8 UF men's golf team never regained that momentum and saw its season come to an early end at the NCAA Championships in Toledo, Ohio.

After a disappointing first round, the Gators could not finish the third day in the top eight and therefore missed the cut for match play and ended the event in 19th place with a score of 37 over par.

Texas A&M went on to win the title after an exciting two days of match play.

"I can't really say anything real positive occurred in Toledo," UF coach Buddy Alexander said. "We had some pretty lofty expectations going in."

A first-round score of 26 over par proved to be too much for UF to overcome.

One of the reasons the Gators got off to such a disastrous start were holes one through nine. In the first round, the team shot 30 over par during that stretch.

"That was a huge disappointment because it put us in a huge hole right out of the box," Alexander said. "Holes three to seven are just an incredibly hard stretch, perhaps the toughest five in a row that I know of in golf."

Senior Billy Horschel saw his UF career come to an end. He finished his last collegiate event with a score of 4 over par. It was only the second time this season that he has finished a tournament over par.

"It's always tough to end a career at one place," Horschel said. "It sucks because I wanted the team to play well and it just wasn't our week, and that hurt."

Although he was unhappy with the way he ended his college career, he didn't let that stop him from reflecting on the past four years.

"These years were the best. If you look at what the other sports did while I was in school, it's unbelievable," he said. "Then you look at the golf side of it, and being coached by Buddy, one of the best coaches in golf history, it means a lot."

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The other seniors, Toby Ragland and Will Strickler, shot 19 over par and 13 over par, respectively.

While the season had its high points, the Gators were never able to fulfill expectations of a conference championship and NCAA Championship.

"I would say this season has been a disappointment, to be real honest," Alexander said. "By UF and Buddy Alexander standards, I wasn't happy with this year."

Horschel Named to All-America Team: UF did receive some good news over the weekend, as Horschel was named to the Division I PING All-America First Team for 2008-09 season. He has made an All-America team in each of the four years he has played at UF, and this is the third time he has made the first team.

"There is no question that Billy was a terrific player, maybe the best I've ever had," Alexander said. "You don't replace Billy."

While his career as a Gator has come to an end, he will now take on another challenge.

"I'm going to try to play professional golf now. We'll see how it works out," Horschel said.

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