After Round 1 of the NCAA Regional Championship in Kohler, Wisconsin, Florida men’s golf coach J.C. Deacon said his team gave a few shots back to the field toward the end of the round.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday.
After sharing the first-round lead with No. 12-seed Idaho at 5 under par, No. 3-seed Florida began Round 2 at Blackwolf Run’s Meadow Valleys Course with a purpose.
The Gators carded the low team round of the day, a 6-under 282, to jump ahead of the 13-team field. At 11 under, Florida has a seven-shot lead over No. 1-seed Illinois and a nine-shot lead over No. 2-seed Florida State.
“The guys’ preparation has just been fantastic,” Deacon said in a release. “They came out firing.”
And that started with Alejandro Tosti.
The sophomore made short work of the first hole with a birdie on the 382-yard par 4. Tosti went on to birdie holes 4, 5 and 7. A bogey on 8 and a par on 9 gave him a 3-under 33 on the front nine.
And things were just getting started.
Tosti went 2 over in his next three holes, but three birdies in the last four holes helped him card a 4-under 68 — his lowest round since Round 1 of the Sea Best Invitational back in February. The Rosario, Argentina, native sits alone at the top of the leaderboard at 6 under with a two-shot lead over Ohio State’s Tee-k Kelly and a three-shot lead over Idaho’s Daniel Sutton.
“(Tosti) has been incredibly focused this week,” Deacon said. “His ability to control his emotions and focus on the present moment has paid off.
“He’s playing wonderful golf.”
Tosti wasn’t the only UF player to stick out, though.
With 18 holes left to play, Sam Horsfield finds himself in a familiar position.
Close to the lead.
After a ho hum, even-par 72 in Round 1, the freshman railed off three-straight birdies on the front nine. Horsfield would go on to birdie the par-5 11th, but consecutive bogeys on holes 12 and 13 halted his round. Still, after a 1-under 71, the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year finds himself in a tie for sixth and only five shots back of UF teammate Tosti.
Gordon Neale was largely absent in the first round after a disappointing, 3-over 75. He made up for it with a 3-under 69 in the second round. The freshman jumped 45 spots from a tie for 55th all they way to a tie for 10th at even par.
Florida did manage to run out of ammo, though.
Freshman Jorge Garcia posted a 2-over 74, and junior Ryan Orr shot a 3-over 75 to bring things back to Earth for the Gators. Both players are in a tie for 18th at 1 over.
The Gators are searching for their first NCAA Regional title since 2011. A victory Wednesday would earn Florida its sixth team-title in program history.
“I’m proud of all of them,” Deacon said of his team. “We just have to come out and do the same things we’ve been doing.”
Contact Ray Boone at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @rboone1994.
Alejandro Tosti follows through on a swing at the 2016 SunTrust Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.