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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Gators men’s golf team will have two key advantages in this weekend’s SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville: It will be the highest-ranked team participating, and it will have home-course advantage.

UF is currently ranked No. 3 by Golfweek and is coming off a fourth-place finish last weekend at the Ping Arizona Intercollegiate Tournament held in Tucson, Ariz.

“I think we need to do a better job of not getting too concerned with expectations,” UF coach Buddy Alexander said. “And a little better job of staying in the present and focusing one shot at a time.

“I thought in Arizona we didn’t realize in reality how easy that golf course was playing, and I don’t think we went quite as low as we needed to.”

Florida’s lineup for the tournament will consist of seniors Tim McKenney and Tyson Alexander, juniors Andres Echavarria and Bank Vongvanij and lone freshman Phillip Choi.

The only change from the Gators’ opening meet this spring at the Arizona Invitational was substituting in Choi for Tyler McCumber.

McCumber struggled, shooting 18-over-par in the tournament.

“It’s always tough to decide when you’ve got a team with pretty good depth, as we do,” coach Alexander said.

However, the Gators will also be represented by freshmen Tommy Mou and McCumber and junior Robbie Wight, who will be competing in the invitational as individuals.

Along with high poll rankings and a talented group of golfers, Florida will be competing on its own turf at the Mark Bostick Golf Course for the only time all season.

“There is no question that we have a pretty distinct advantage here,” Alexander said. “We play here every day and we have had a lot of success in this tournament [in the past] and our guys feel pretty comfortable.

“And we live in Florida so we’ve probably played and practiced a lot more than the teams that will be here.

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“We have a lot of advantages this week and that is probably one of the reasons we’ll be successful in this event.”

At the SunTrust Gator Invitational in 2009, the Gators came in first in the tournament for the sixth-straight year and have had 11 players win as individuals.

The Gators have won 23 titles in Gainesville in the golf program’s 33 years at UF.

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