The biggest story for the Florida men’s golf team was the emergence of two young talents in sophomores Sam Horsfield and Gordon Neale.
Horsfield started out the Spring season with an individual title at the Sea Best Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, shooting 7-under 203 and becoming the first Gator freshman to win a tournament since Billy Horschel in 2006.
He added two more individual titles to his resume at the Mason Rudolph Championship and the Southern Highlands Collegiate and placed second at the SunTrust Gator Invitational.
Neale’s story, however, started out a little differently. He didn’t play until the Mason Rudolph Championship in April.
But he made a big impression.
In his second tournament of the season, Neale put up a 5-under 208 to take second behind Horsfield, who shot a 7-under 206.
After that performance, though, third-year head coach J.C. Deacon added Neale to the five golfers Florida plays each tournament.
At the Southeastern Conference Championship, Neale shot a 1-over 211 to finish fourth, the highest among freshmen. At the NCAA Regional Championship and the NCAA Championship, Neale shot a 1-over 217 for a share of 29th place and a 7-over 287 for a share of 26th place, respectively.
The Gators found success throughout the season, winning two tournaments. In the postseason, Florida finished third at the SEC Championship, second at the NCAA Regional Championship and 15th at the NCAA Championship.
The Florida lineup at the end of NCAAs consisted of Horsfield, Neale, junior Alejandro Tosti, sophomore Jorge Garcia and senior Ryan Orr, all of whom are returning in the Fall.
The Gators only lost two players — with Richard Donegan graduating and redshirt senior Conor Richardson transferring to Northwestern — but they also added incoming freshman Andy Zhang to the team. Zhang competed in the 2012 U.S. Open when he was 14 after an impressive showing in the qualifiers.
The Gators will play in four tournaments in the Fall: the Carpet Capital Invitational on Sept. 9, the Windon Memorial on Sept. 25, the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational on Oct. 2 and the Tavistock Collegiate on Oct. 16.
Meanwhile, the core five for the Florida women’s golf team had an impressive spring, showcasing several dominating performances and first place finishes.
Florida won five of its six spring tournaments and finished third in the other.
The Gators then finished second at the Southeastern Conference Championship, tied for first at the NCAA Regional Championship and finished 17th at the NCAA Championship.
As individuals, a Gator won only two tournaments, with Kelly Grassel and Taylor Tomlinson tying for first at the Florida Challenge and Maria Torres winning the SEC Championship with 9-under 207, the second lowest tournament score in Florida history
Torres’ SEC victory made her the seventh Gator to win the SEC Championship and the first since 2003.
As the season progressed, sophomore Sam Wagner started showing signs of improvement, which was reflected in her placement in each tournament.
Early on, Wagner struggled, tying for 38th at the SunTrust Gator Invitational in March.
She turned it around, though, with a 4-under 212 performance at the Briar’s Creek Invitational for a share of fifth place and a 5-under 211 score at the Clemson Invitational for fourth.
Karolina Vlckova, Tomlinson, Torres, Grassel and Wagner are all returning for the fall. While Florida lost Laura Kanouse and Ursa Orehek to graduation, it has a strong freshman class ready to make an impact.
Marta Perez was the top-ranked junior player in Spain from 2008-2015 and was the runner-up at the both the 2015 British Girls’ Championship and the 2014 Spanish Under-16 Amateur Championship.
Rounding out the class are Carlotta Ricolfi and Elin Esborn. Ricolfi was the 2014 and 2015 Duke of York Young Girls’ Champion and helped Italy win Silver at the 2014 and 2015 European Girls Team Championships. Esborn finished third at both the 2015 International French Junior and the 2015 Skandia Tour Elite #1 Championship.
The Gators have four tournaments in the fall: The Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championships — which will kick off their season on Sept. 12 — the Annika Classic on Sept. 25, the Windy City Classic on Oct. 3 and the Stanford Intercollegiate on Oct. 14.
Contact Jake Dreilinger at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.
Gordon Neale lines up a shot during the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 21 at the Mark Bostick Golf course.