The Florida men’s golf team didn’t get what it came for at the NCAA Regional Championship in Kohler, Wisconsin.
The No. 3-seed Gators began Wednesday’s final round at Blackwolf Run’s Meadow Valleys Course with a seven-shot lead over No. 1-seed Illinois.
But as the day progressed, that lead began to disintegrate.
Behind four scores of par or better, the Fighting Illini stormed back and overtook a reeling Florida team to capture the NCAA Regional team title.
Illinois fired a sizzling 7-under 281 in the final round to push its total to 11 under. Florida finished the day four shots back in second place at 7 under par.
“We just didn’t have it (Wednesday),” UF coach J.C. Deacon said in a release.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win in the last three holes but just couldn’t hang in there to get it done.”
Round 3 didn’t start out poorly for the Gators, though.
Alejandro Tosti, who held the overnight individual lead at 6 under par, once again got off to a fast start with a birdie on the par-4 first hole. The sophomore made consecutive birdies on holes 4 and 5 and shot a bogey-free 33 on the front nine, entering the final nine with a four-shot lead.
Nine holes stood between him and victory.
But Tosti stumbled down the stretch, carding a double bogey, a birdie, a birdie, a bogey and a bogey.
Five holes into the back nine, and Tosti’s lead was gone.
A bogey on the par-3 17th ensured a second-place finish for the Rosario, Argentina, native.
Tosti posted an even-par 72 in the third round to finish the tournament at 6 under, a single shot behind Ohio State’s Tee-k Kelly.
Sam Horsfield began Round 3 five shots back of UF teammate Tosti.
Horsfield, the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, needed to get off to a hot start in order to catch up to the leaders.
Instead, he opened with 12-straight pars.
Horsfield went on to collect two birdies and two bogeys to card an even-par 72. The Davenport native finished the event in a tie for 12th at 1 under par.
Another freshman, Gordon Neale, may have had the biggest setback of the tournament for the Gators.
At 2 under with one hole left to play, the freshman sized up the 458-yard par-4 18th. He finished the hole with a triple bogey.
Neale carded a final-round, 1-over 73 to give him a share of 29th place at 1 over par.
Jorge Garcia rounded out the Gators’ top-four scorers. The freshman began the day in the top 20 but couldn’t get anything going in Round 3.
Garcia made three bogeys and a double en route to a 3-over 75, placing him in a tie for 38th at 4 over par.
A win would have given the Gators their sixth NCAA Regional title in program history and their first since 2011.
But despite their second-place finish, the Gators’ season isn’t over yet.
The top-five teams from each Regional advance to the NCAA Championship, which begins May 27.
“We were obviously really disappointed that we didn’t win (Wednesday),” Deacon said. “We have an opportunity to play for a national championship … so we’re really excited at the same time.”
Contact Ray Boone and firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @rboone1994.
Alejandro Tosti putts during the 2015 SunTrust Gator Invitational on UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.