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<p>Sam Horsfield hits a shot during Round 2 of the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 21, 2016, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.</p>

Sam Horsfield hits a shot during Round 2 of the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 21, 2016, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

During Round 2 of the Southeastern Conference Championship, Florida golfer Sam Horsfield hit his second shot into the par-4 fourth at the Sea Island Golf Club.

When he got to his ball, he couldn’t believe himself.

Plugged under the edge of the bunker sat his Titleist Pro V1x, the white exterior barely visible against the surface of the sand.

"You couldn’t even see it. We almost didn’t find it," UF coach J.C. Deacon said of Horsfield’s ball. "Found it buried in the worst lie you could ever see."

A younger Horsfield would not have taken kindly to this misfortune. A younger Horsfield would have most likely cursed his bad luck or slammed his golf bag in frustration.

Instead, the freshman laughed.

Deacon said that attitude is the reason for Horsfield’s success.

"We told him after the first tournament this year up in Atlanta that we were gonna be on him about his attitude. Constantly," Deacon said. "Sam decided that he didn’t want us on him every day about that, and he changed."

Horsfield, who has won three times this year and leads the team in scoring average at 70.3, has not only mastered the golf courses he has played. He has mastered the toughest course of all.

The one inside his head.

From a young golfer who was flustered at the first sign of adversity to a seasoned competitor who has brought many courses to their knees, Horsfield has matured this season, and it’s rubbing off on some of his teammates.

One of them is Gordon Neale, who dealt with injuries for much of the year and struggled to qualify for tournaments throughout the season.

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After appearing in his second-straight tournament, the freshman has emerged for the No. 8-ranked Gators.

He finished second in the Mason Rudolph Championship on April 3, Neale fired a final-round of 67 — the lowest score of his career — to finish in fourth at the SEC Championship.

"His attitude is probably the one that I look up to the most on the team," Deacon said of Neale.

"He never complained about his playing time. He just looked in the mirror and wanted to get better.

"Look where he is now."

According to Deacon, the rest of the team can learn from Horsfield and Neale.

The ability to remain positive with adversity baring its teeth has helped the freshman duo, and it can help this squad going forward as it prepares for the NCAA Regional Championship on May 16.

"That’s going to be the difference," Deacon said of his team's attitude.

"I think our talent is as good as anyone’s."

Contact Ray Boone at rboone@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @rboone1994

Sam Horsfield hits a shot during Round 2 of the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 21, 2016, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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