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Thursday, July 07, 2022
<p>Gordon Neal kneels during the 2016 Gator SunTrust Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.</p>

Gordon Neal kneels during the 2016 Gator SunTrust Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

In the days following the Carpet Capital Collegiate, Florida men’s golf coach J.C. Deacon left a handful of lessons for his team to pick up on.

Hardly any of them had to do with the game itself.

It was the little things Deacon stressed that could affect a player’s mentality, like getting into the right mindset and forgetting mistakes made on past holes.

Above all, he wanted his players to form a better attitude while on the course, keeping the complaining to a minimum.

“I think when this team faces adversity, and it’s probably my fault as much anyone else’s,” Deacon said. “We shy away from it and almost feel sorry for ourselves.”

It was this attitude, Deacon said, that stopped the Gators from adding on to the play of sophomores Sam Horsfield and Gordon Neale, who hit 8 under par and 4 under par, respectively.

Neale and Horsfield, despite struggling at times throughout the tournament, were praised by their coach for not complaining about their play and choosing to take action to make it better.

Instead of letting it affect them, they focused on improvement throughout the day.

“(I) had a horrible bogey at nine. I was thinking ‘Oh, here we go again. Another wasted round,’” Neale said. “But I was able to get it going on the back nine with a couple birdies and an eagle. That one felt really good. I almost could’ve birdied each of the last three.”

This mentality shows in their play.

Since he joined the lineup at the Mason Rudolph Championship, Neale finished within the top two of Florida’s players in four of five tournaments, including finishing runner-up behind Horsfield at the Mason Rudolph.

And in Horsfield’s college career, he has won three tournaments, finished runner-up once and added four more top-five finishes.

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But while Neale and Horsfield have established their place on the roster, the imminent return of freshman Andy Zhang from injury has placed an added pressure on the rest of the players to perform well or risk losing their spot.

Luckily, they have a few more tournaments to show major improvement.

With a tournament under their belts and a little more time to shake off some of the rust from the summer, Horsfield, Neale and the Gators are ready to take their coach’s lessons to heart.

And that starts at a new location for a new tournament.

For most players, Sunday will be the first time they play this season during the Windon Memorial Classic in Glenview, Illinois.

And for some, it will pose a challenge if they can’t adjust properly.

“It shouldn’t be bad, I had to do it all the time last year,” Horsfield said.

“Most of the work is on the greens. Getting the speed, getting the right breaks, where you can and cannot hit it. And then off the tees onto the greens. That’s why you practice, so you can repeat shots.”

Contact Jake Dreilinger at jdreilinger@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.

Gordon Neal kneels during the 2016 Gator SunTrust Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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