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Friday, January 28, 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.

Yielding to pressure and losing focus can break a golfer, and after ending the regular season with a four-tournament winning streak, the pressure has mounted for Florida’s women’s golf team.

"We’ve had to hit the reset button because that’s what we’ve done after each win that we’ve had," coach Emily Glaser said. "We have to go back to square one and say, ‘This is a new tournament. This is a new golf course.’ We have to break it down into each day."

Heading into the Southeastern Conference Championship on Friday, the Gators will have to deal with the pressure of carrying their winning streak into the postseason. For Glaser, this means more of the same.

"We don’t want to change much from what we’ve been doing all spring," Glaser said. "We’ll make sure that we approach it the same way as we have the other tournaments, not doing anything extra or adding any extra pressure to ourselves. I don’t think that would help."

For Florida, this consistent approach has been apparent both in the way it prepares and who it chooses to compete. The Gators have played the same five golfers in the last eight tournaments.

Their last tournament, however, featured a bump in the road.

Junior Maria Torres was taken out of the lineup prior to the Clemson Invitational from April 1-3 due to a minor foot injury, Glaser said. In her place stepped junior Sydney Needham, hoping to continue UF’s run.

"She said she didn’t want this streak to end with her being in the lineup," Glaser said of Needham.

The streak didn’t end, but Needham’s first and second rounds were troubling for the Samford University transfer as she carded 8 over on both days.

Fortunately for Needham and the rest of the Gators, an under-par final round kept UF in the lead.

Glaser believes the decision to sit Torres so close to the tournament placed added pressure on Needham.

"The first two days she didn’t play great, but that’s not the golf that we see from her when we’re at home," Glaser said. "The last day is more of the type of player that she is."

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Although the Clemson Invitational was Needham’s first tournament in UF’s lineup, Glaser believed that Needham earned the appearance.

"She works really hard and deserved to be there. I know that she’s been frustrated that she hasn’t made the lineup up to this point," Glaser said.

Having to balance expectation and momentum, Glaser’s battle for her first SEC title and the team’s third NCAA national title may come down to how the squad learns to deal with the pressure.

"We’ll take it a lot like we have the other tournaments, a formula that we think has been working pretty well. Make sure that we go in there focused and relaxed."

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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