The last time the Florida men’s golf team competed, the Gators battled a tough golf course and even tougher conditions on their way to a tie for third at the Southeastern Conference Championship.
That was back in mid-April.
Now a month removed from competition, the No. 7 Gators return to action today when they tee off in the first round of the NCAA Regional Championship in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Florida, which has the No. 3 seed in the event, will square off against 12 other teams, including No. 2 Illinois and No. 15 Florida State, seeded No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Ten players who qualified as individuals will also be competing.
“It’s tough,” UF coach J.C. Deacon said of the month-long break in a release. “We have a lot of trust in our guys… They’re going to be working hard and getting after it.”
The 54-hole event will be held at Blackwolf Run’s Meadow Valleys Course, a 7,123-yard trek that snakes its way through Kohler’s natural terrain of meadows and ravines.
The five-man lineup of freshman Sam Horsfield, freshman Gordon Neale, sophomore Alejandro Tosti, freshman Jorge Garcia and junior Ryan Orr is more than capable of answering the task at hand. Horsfield, who won three tournaments this season, was recently named the SEC Freshman of the Year. And Neale, who didn’t play for much of the year due to injury, is starting to make some waves within the Florida program. In his last two events, Neale carded consecutive top-five finishes, including a fourth-place finish at the SEC Championship.
Florida has a long history of success at the regional level, too.
In 27 years of regional play, the Gators have qualified for the NCAA Regional Championship 26 times. Of those 26 times competing, Florida has won five team titles — most recently in 2011 — and five individual titles.
In addition, the Gators have advanced to NCAA Championship play in every year but two since regionals were introduced in 1989.
Florida will be competing in one of the six regional championships held across the nation. The top five teams from each regional — in addition to the top individual from each regional –– will advance to compete in the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Oregon, on May 27.
“We just have to take care of our business,” Deacon said. “We’re not really worried about anyone else or who is at our regional.
“The guys have put in a lot of time and effort and hard work leading up to it, so I really hope it pays off.”
Contact Ray Boone email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @rboone1994
Sam Horsfield lines up a shot to start the third round of the SunTrust Invitational on Feb. 21, 2016, at UF's Mark Bostic Golf Course.