On Sunday, Gators’ freshman John Axelsen carded six birdies on the front nine, which led UF to second place on the leaderboard behind Illinois and gave Axelsen a share of the individual lead.
Axelsen didn’t match his Round 1 performance in Monday’s Round 2, but his even par score was enough to put him in a tie for second overall at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in Windermere, Florida. As a team, the Gators remain in second place, but caught up to first-place Illinois by one stroke after posting the lowest team score of the round (3 under). Florida is now trailing by only two strokes headed into the tournament’s final round on Tuesday.
"Today was possibly my favorite day of the season to date,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “We did not get off to an ideal start but we constantly talk about being patient, disciplined, and emotionally controlled. We were the epitome of those championship traits on our back nine. It was a complete five-man effort, as a coach you've got to love that."
Junior Gordon Neale was the standout golfer for the Gators on Monday, carding five birdies and no bogeys on the back nine. He was able to move up 20 spots on the leaderboard, and is currently tied with Axelsen for second.
In addition to Neale, senior Alejandro Tosti moved up the leaderboard, jumping four spots into a tie for seventh after notching his second 1-under round of the tournament.
It was not as productive a day for the Gators’ other freshman, Chris Nido, as he was 3 over for the day and dropped into a tie for 34th.
Redshirt sophomore Blake Dyer, who is competing in his first tournament of the fall, posted a score of 5 over, an improvement from his 7-over performance on Sunday. However, he still dropped one spot on the leaderboard, falling into a tie for 85th.
Florida and Illinois seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, as the next closest team behind UF, the California Golden Bears, trail the Gators by 7 strokes.
It is shaping up to be a final round battle between the Gators and the Illini for first place as Day 3 begins from Isleworth Country Club on Tuesday morning.
"I am excited for the guys as they've played themselves into another great position,” Deacon said. “To have the opportunity to compete for the Tavistock Collegiate title tomorrow is exactly why we work so hard."
Florida individual leaderboard:
Neale (-5) T2
Axelsen (-5) T2
Tosti (-2) T7
Nido (+3) T34
Dyer (+12) T85
You can follow Tyler Nettuno on Twitter @TylerNettuno, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gordon Neale crouches during round two of the SunTrust Gator Invitational on Feb. 21, 2016, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.