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<p>UF's Sam Horsfield swings during the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at the Mark Bostic Golf Course.</p>

UF's Sam Horsfield swings during the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at the Mark Bostic Golf Course.

When the Gators return to Las Vegas in a few weeks, it won’t be a chance to gamble and hit the strip.

A year after finishing second in the 2016 Southern Highlands Collegiate, Florida will look to bounce back from a disappointing outing at the SunTrust Gator Invitational, which saw the Gators finish fourth after holding sole possession of third place through the first two rounds.

On Monday, coach J.C. Deacon reiterated how he feels about the performance over the weekend.

“Finishing fourth wasn’t what we had in mind when the week started," he said. “But I’m not as much concerned with the result as how it happened.”

He went on to say it’s on all of the team, not just any individual.

“When we get into adversity, we’ve got to react better and not press so hard and get ourselves deeper in a hole,” he said. “We’ve just got to trust our talent and relax a little bit and let the game come to us.”

Although many of the team’s players struggled to find a rhythm over the weekend, the Gators return to a course they are very familiar with. Deacon is a graduate of UNLV, the host of the Southern Highlands event.

As a student-athlete, Deacon led UNLV to the Mountain West title in 2002 after finishing tied for second in individual play. Along with the playing connection, Deacon also has an emotional connection to Southern Highlands.

“Other than the (SunTrust) Gator, it’s the biggest tournament on my schedule every year," he said. "Southern Highlands is a phenomenal place. I’ve probably played there about a thousand times in my life. And it’s the place where my wife and I got married. So there’s a lot of special feelings when I go back there.”

Last year, Sam Horsfield took home the individual title, finishing 7 under for the tournament, four strokes ahead of second place. He was also able to shoot under par in every round that weekend, taking home his second title of the 2015-16 campaign.

Even with past success at Southern Highlands, Deacon expressed how important the trip will be.

“It’s a golf course that tests every part of your game," he said. "Our guys have got to be ready to be mentally tough out there.”

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Florida will head out west to compete over the three-day tournament, which takes place March 6 to 8. The toughness of the course will present another challenge for the Gators.

“It’s another tournament that mirrors what a national championship golf course looks like. Our preparation has to be really good for the next week and a half.” Deacon said. “I’ve got a feeling you’re going to see a really good team in Vegas.”

Contact Justin Ahlum at and follow him on Twitter @justinn_case1.

UF's Sam Horsfield swings during the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at the Mark Bostic Golf Course.

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