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Monday, February 06, 2023

The

Florida women’s golf team’s chances of reaching the NCAA

Championships may rest on a scant three-hole stretch. 

The

Gators shot a team score of 297 (+9) in Friday’s second round of

the NCAA East Regional. Their two-day total of 595 (+19) currently

sits them in the all-important eighth position on the

leaderboard. 

But

Florida is playing the 135-yard par-3 third hole in a combined

8-over through two rounds. UF has also struggled with the first and

fourth holes, shooting a collective 11-over so far. 

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“It

was literally three bad holes for our team,” coach Jan Dowling

said. “But if you take the stuff before and after that, for us to

finish where we are, is obviously pretty good stuff.”

Senior Jessica Yadloczky, who will be turning pro after the season,

rebounded from a 4-over 76 on Thursday with a steady 1-over 73 on

Friday. 

Junior Evan Jensen carded a 4-over 76, impressive considering she

made a quadruple-bogey 7 at No. 3 — the same hole that gave

Isabelle Lendl problems Thursday. 

Lendl, Thursday’s best Gator golfer, followed up an opening 72 with

a 6-over-par 78 on Friday. In contrast, junior Andrea Watts, who

opened with a 5-over-par 77, paced Florida in round two with an

even-par 72 including four birdies. 

The

Gators combined for 13 birdies on Friday and Dowling said the team

must remain patient and focused because the course can yield some

low scores.

“We’re definitely making birdies, so that means we’re doing some

really good things,” Dowling said.

The

only Florida golfer to remain consistent has been Mia Piccio, even

though the sophomore’s back-to-back rounds of 75 and 74 are above

her season average of 73.89. 

But

there are seven teams within eight shots of Florida, all vying for

a spot in the championship round. Quality teams including No. 16

Auburn, No. 18 Michigan State and No. 23 Vanderbilt are all well

within striking distance with one round left to play.

“We’re just going to focus on what we need to do — that’s what we

can control anyway — and stay patient, stay positive and do what we

do best,” Dowling said. 

Dowling pointed to the last round at the Liz Murphey Collegiate

Classic, where Florida shot a 5-under 283, and UF’s sustained

success at the SunTrust Gator Women’s Golf Invitational as evidence

her team knows how to finish.  

“We

won by 17 shots at our home event, that proves we can do it for

three days,” Dowling said. “And we can certainly do it one day for

(Saturday’s final round).”

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