Coming into the Gators second fall tournament on Sunday, men’s golf coach J.C. Deacon expected more out of his team.
While Alejandro Tosti took home individual honors at the Carpet Capital Invitational earlier this month, Deacon was not pleased with his team’s performance as a whole.
“To have a winner of the event, and the team to finish fifth, that’s not good enough for our standards,” Deacon said following that tournament.
In response, he put sophomore Andy Zhang in the starting lineup. And after one round of play at the Trinity Forest Invitational in Dallas, it seems to be working.
Several Gators put up strong numbers including Tosti, who is once again in the mix for individual victory and is tied for second place after shooting 4 under on Sunday. He is one of three Florida golfers currently in the top 10, along with freshman Chris Nido (tied for sixth) and Zhang (tied for 10th). The Gators turned these performances into a one-stroke lead over Texas in team play after one round.
Junior Gordon Neale was even for the day and is tied for 23rd, putting four Florida golfers in the top 25. Freshman John Axelsen, on the other hand, struggled again Sunday. He was 5 over for the round, which was only good enough for a share of 63rd place.
However, Florida appears to have found the consistency it was looking for in the last tournament, and that will be an important factor for this team moving forward.
“I love the patience and discipline we showed as a team today,” Deacon said in a release. “We didn’t get off to the best of starts but all five of the guys stayed in it. Our back nine was fantastic. Eleven birdies and an eagle with minimal mistakes. We need to rely on that patient and discipline mindset the rest of the week and year for that matter.”
Also worth mentioning is the performance of redshirt sophomore Blake Dyer. Dyer, who didn’t play last year, is competing as an individual in this tournament and has been impressive thus far. He is tied for 14th, and at only five strokes behind the leader, has a chance to compete for the individual title.
The highlight of Dyer’s day came at hole 12, where he earned his first career ace. That feat undoubtedly got the attention of Florida’s coaches.
“Big cheers to Blake Dyer on his hole-in-one,” Deacon said. “He does so many great things for us, I’m really happy to see that happen to him.”
Florida will look to hold onto its lead in the second round on Monday morning.
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UF head coach JC Deacon holds a scorecard during the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 18, 2017, at the Mark Bostic Golf Course.