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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

It appears the Florida men’s golf team needs to get back into competitive form.

In the No. 3 Gators’ first tournament of the spring season, they came into the Arizona Invitational with the highest ranking of the 14 teams competing. But UF’s ranking didn’t mean anything in Tucson, Ariz., as it concluded the 54-hole event with a fourth-place finish Tuesday.

“The one thing I can say about our team is that they are consistent,” UF coach Buddy Alexander said. “Again, they didn’t play very well based on the fact that the course was sitting there waiting for them. There was no wind, the greens were not firm and the scoring conditions were great.”

The Gators (281-279-279, -13) finished 16 strokes behind winner California (269-274-280, -29), 15 back from Arizona (279-271-274, -28) and only one behind Fresno State (284-273-281, -14).

“We were in a warm weather area and we’ve been getting as much practice as anyone,” Alexander said. “There wasn’t a lot of rust but maybe a little bit of competitive rust.”

Leading the Gators was senior Tim McKenney. After finishing Monday’s first two rounds tied for 18th place at -2, McKenney (68-72-67, -6) shot -4 in the final round Tuesday to finish the tournament tied for seventh. In his final 18 holes, McKenney had four birdies and no bogeys.

Freshman Tommy Mou (69-70-70, -4) finished tied for 11th competing as an individual in his first collegiate event. Mou’s final round included six birdies, one bogey and two double bogeys. Mou birdied or better on the 2nd, 5th and 18th hole all three rounds.

“I was more excited for Tommy than the team or anyone else,” Alexander said. “Unfortunately he double bogeyed in his last round or else he would have finished in the top 10. It’s pretty obvious he’s getting better.”

Senior Tyson Alexander and junior Andres Echavarria both tied for 16th at -3. Alexander (70-69-71) shot even par in the final round while Echavarria (72-70-68), who started the last round at even par, shot -3 on Tuesday.

Junior Bank Vongvanij (71-68-75, +1) finished alone in 32nd place while freshman Tyler McCumber (77-81-73, +18) tied for 66th.

Although McCumber had the most trouble with the course over the two-day event, he was the most improved Gator on Tuesday after taking eight less shots than he did in the second round.

“If you look at our last four tournaments, we haven’t played poorly, but we haven’t played our best,” coach Alexander said. “I might be willing to sacrifice a little consistency for some extraordinary. I think we can do a little better.”

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