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Wednesday, January 19, 2022
<p>Maria Torres tees off during the 2015 SunTrust Gator Invitational at UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.</p>

Maria Torres tees off during the 2015 SunTrust Gator Invitational at UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.

Today, Florida will begin the Southeastern Conference Championship in Birmingham, Alabama — its first test of the postseason.

At last year’s championship, Florida failed to crack the top five, placing in sixth place, 35 strokes behind first place Texas A&M. Then-senior Anna Young and then-sophomore Karolina Vlckova led UF, both finishing 17th.

But that was last year.

“I would argue that the (SEC) in women’s golf is the most challenging league in the country,” coach Emily Glaser said. “We’ve really talked about putting ourselves in the position to give us a chance come Sunday.”

The No. 8 Gators will face a No. 27-ranked Texas A&M squad, along with No. 4 Georgia and No. 3 Alabama.

The Aggies will be returning junior Bianca Fabrizio and sophomore Maddie Szeryk, who placed first and second at the 2015 SEC Championship, respectively.

But this season, the Aggies have a losing record against Florida. At the Alamo Invitational in October, TAMU found themselves in 11th place, while UF took home its first title of the season. History repeated itself at the Clemson Invitational on April 1, this time with the Aggies in seventh place.

Unfortunately for Florida, Georgia and Alabama are a different story.

The Bulldogs and Gators have faced each other in two tournaments, both in the fall.

In both, the Bulldogs finished above the Gators.

At the Cougar Classic, Georgia finished at even par to secure second place while Florida missed out of medaling by four strokes, ending its first tournament of the season in fourth. The next meeting, at the Windy City Collegiate, the Gators trailed behind Georgia by an even larger margin. The Bulldogs secured their first title of the season while Florida finished eighth, its worst finish of the season.

More recently, the Gators have faced the Crimson Tide twice on the green, with mixed results.

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At the Northrop-Grumman Regional Challenge, the Tide edged out UF by five strokes, finishing in second place while Florida finished third.

But less than two weeks later at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship, Florida found itself six strokes ahead of Alabama. The Gators took first while the Crimson Tide placed third.

Today, Florida is heading into the first round with momentum after winning four straight tournaments.

After sitting out the Clemson Invitational due to a minor foot injury, junior Maria Torres will participate in the SEC Chamionship as part of Florida’s lineup.

“It was hard not to go, but it was a medical decision I had to make,” Torres said. “I knew that Sydney (Needham) was capable of doing whatever she set her mind to. I’m excited to go, I have to be honest. I don’t know how the outcome will be like … I just really want to play.”

Torres will be joined by sophomore Taylor Tomlinson, juniors Kelly Grassel and Karolina Vlckova and freshman Samantha Wagner. Wagner has played well in the last two tournaments, claiming fifth and fourth place, respectively.

Round 1 will tee off at 9 a.m.

“They’re going to be ready for the challenge,” Glaser said. “We’re going to grind our butts off, and we’re looking forward to competing.”

Contact Alfredo Morales at amorales@alligator.org and you can follow him on Twitter @amorales_95

Maria Torres tees off during the 2015 SunTrust Gator Invitational at UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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