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Tuesday, December 07, 2021
<p>Senior Alejandro Tosti is struggling at the SEC Championship despite being the returning individual champion. He shot 6-over-par on the first day of competition.</p>

Senior Alejandro Tosti is struggling at the SEC Championship despite being the returning individual champion. He shot 6-over-par on the first day of competition.

An individual SEC champion, five team wins and four more top-five finishes. The Florida men’s golf team had all of the keys it needed to have a successful 2016-17 campaign.

However, after a derailing final round at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional, the Gators season came to an abrupt and deflating finish.

Two straight wins on the road in Orlando and Ponte Vedra, Florida, were followed by a disappointing fourth place finish at home.

Then, a trip to Las Vegas saw the Gators finish in the bottom half of the leaderboard at the Southern Highlands Collegiate.

SEC individual champion Alejandro Tosti also followed his impressive weekend at the SEC Championships with a 28th-place finish at the NCAA Regionals, capping a disappointing end to a season full of potential.

The Gators will have to wait until the fall of 2017 to play in a college tournament again.

Sam Horsfield will leave to pursue a professional career in golf. Ryan Orr is also gone to graduation and Tosti will be entering his senior year in 2017.

Earlier this season, Deacon had high praise for his players, calling the group a “championship team.”

But going into his fourth season as head coach next fall, Deacon will still be looking to make those words come true.

The Gators haven’t won a national championship since 2001 and haven’t won an SEC championship since 2011.

The Gators will also look to grow as a team and improve on this year’s result. Gordon Neale and Jorge Garcia will enter their junior seasons, while Andy Zhang will be a sophomore.

All three golfers, as well as Tosti, will look to lead the team and continue its solid play from this past year, as well as fill the shoes of the departing Horsfield.

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Florida will look back at this season as a learning experience and a growing pain.

While getting back on its feet after a tough loss is necessary, reflecting on what happened in the 2016-17 campaign will need to occur as well.

Only then will UF be able to achieve its goals and get back into the spotlight as national contender in college men’s golf.

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

Senior Alejandro Tosti is struggling at the SEC Championship despite being the returning individual champion. He shot 6-over-par on the first day of competition.

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