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Tuesday, December 07, 2021
<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-1db3beb2-7c4e-4193-8150-fdc59565aa30"><span>Alejandro Tosti follows through on his swing during the the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at Mark Bostick Golf Course.</span></span></p>

Alejandro Tosti follows through on his swing during the the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at Mark Bostick Golf Course.

He found his love for the sport while watching the Masters at 5 years old. He grew up learning to play golf with a deodorant ball, plastic bag and a charcoal grill tool that barely resembled a putter.

Now, 20-year-old Alejandro Tosti is one of the most dominant players on the Florida men’s golf team.

He was one of two Gators to finish this season with six top-ten finishes and was the first player on the team to secure an individual title with his win at the Tavistock Collegiate on Oct. 18.

However, in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina, golf isn’t the most popular sport around. Soccer and basketball dominate the country, with many younger kids growing up idolizing the native stars in those sports.

But there was never a doubt in Tosti’s mind. He was set on playing golf.

He started in his backyard, where he took the stick his family used to clean their charcoal grill and use it as a putter.

His father gave him a deodorant ball, and his brother removed the cover from a drainage pipe and used a plastic bag to act as a hole for Tosti.

He played with that same stick and deodorant ball for months, having so much fun that, shortly after his sixth birthday, he decided to ask his parents a very important question.

“I asked my parents to play golf,” Tosti said. “(My parents) were saying ‘golf is for rich people. We don’t know nothing about golf.’”

Instead, his parents asked him about playing basketball. But Tosti, who is heading into his senior year at UF, was positive he was making the right decision.

“I was determined because I was really young,” he said. “(My parents) started taking me to classes, and the first class they gave me a club.”

After a year of learning the sport from instructors, Tosti was finally ready to play competitively.

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His parents frequently took him to tournaments, and it didn’t take long for the Argentinian to find success.

“My second week I played in a tournament, I finished third place and got a medal,” he said. “And that thing… was the best thing that could ever happen to me.”

Tosti went on to practice every other day at Club Mitre de Pérez an hour away from his home.

With his parents sporting a grueling work schedule and no time to take him to the club, Tosti’s only option was taking the bus.

“I would call them an hour and fifteen minutes before I left the club and tell them I was leaving,” Tosti said.

His parents would then treck to the bus stop and wait for him to get back.

“It was really cool, they put a lot of effort into supporting me and even stopped doing things to help me,” he said. “It was great to see that they didn’t do it for any purpose, just supporting me and loving me.”

By the age of 9, Tosti was competing in national tournaments and winning at a pretty high rate.

At the age of 13, Tosti was assigned to play for the Argentine national team, where he was given the opportunity to travel outside of the country. One of his first trips ever was to the United States.

“At 14 years old, I could barely speak English, and after the trip, I realized that if I wanted to come here, I had to start studying English,” he said.

By 2013, Tosti was fielding offers from numerous colleges when he met UF men’s golf assistant John Handrigan.

“I first saw him play at a tournament down in South Florida,” Handrigan said. “Then I went... and saw him play when he was in Columbia playing for the (Argentine) national team. After that, we knew we wanted him to be a Gator.”

When Florida began recruiting the Argentinean, it didn’t take Tosti long to decide Gainesville was where he wanted to go.

“Knowing the past players that have been through the University of Florida, that caught my attention a lot,” he said. “And knowing also that it’s in Florida, it’s good weather... That was kind of the perfect plan. Once I started talking to Florida, that was my main objective.”

Coach J.C. Deacon also remembers the first time he met Tosti in the spring of 2015.

“He just showed up on campus and walked in (my office),” Deacon said. “I had spoken with him a lot… but that was the first time I met him.”

Deacon said Tosti has changed tremendously since he arrived at UF in early 2015, noting the initial difficulties that came with learning a new language.

“I think it was tough for him,” Deacon said. “But he’s learned a whole new culture. He’s learned a new language. His English is perfect now, that’s really impressive. He’s learned how to study, learned how to practice, learned how to do things differently here.”

Tosti and the Gators capped off the 2016-17 season with a fourth place finish at the SEC Championship before failing to advance past the NCAA Regional in late May.

Despite falling short of a national title, Tosti was the individual winner at the SEC Championship, finishing at 10-under-par and beating Vanderbilt’s Patrick Martin in the second hole of a playoff.

Deacon had high praise for his upperclassman, who will return next season for his final year on the team.

“He has it all,” Deacon said. “This is his life dream, to play on the PGA Tour, and be a world-class player.

“I want him to want it.”

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

Alejandro Tosti follows through on his swing during the the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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