After coach J.C. Deacon didn’t get what he expected out of his starting lineup, he once again decided to make a change.
Deacon put freshman Won Jun Lee, from Seoul, South Korea, into the men’s golf team’s starting lineup at the Nike Collegiate Invitational in North Plains, Oregon, on Sunday.
After Day 1, the switch has left the Gators tied for fifth place, not the performance No. 5 Florida was looking for after securing its first win of fall on Tuesday.
Bright spots for the Gators were freshman Chris Nido and sophomore Andy Zhang, who were 4 under and 3 under, respectively. Nido is tied for seventh and Zhang is tied for 13th.
Deacon remains optimistic about UF’s chances despite the fact that his team is sitting six strokes behind first-place Oklahoma.
“Good, solid start for the Gators,” Deacon said in a release. “Andy Zhang continued his fine play and freshman Chris Nido came up huge with a 67. Tomorrow is going to be a really good test for us as we need a great round to get in contention before the final round on Tuesday.”
The addition of Lee (1 over) into the starting lineup came after back-to-back below average performances from freshman John Axelsen, who Deacon said has struggled since the season’s first tournament.
Alejandro Tosti, whom Deacon has referred to as the “on-course leader,” had the Gators’ worst score. He was 2 over for the day and is currently tied for 46th.
Unfortunately for Florida, when Tosti underperforms, the rest of the team has to pick up the slack in order to succeed, and the golfer who did that last week, Gordon Neale, had a mediocre even par round on Sunday.
Neale currently sits in a tie for 28th, and Florida will need both him and Tosti, the only upperclassmen in the Gators’ lineup, to improve if it has any hope of stringing together two-straight tournament victories.
With two rounds left in Oregon, Deacon still believes his team can improve throughout the remainder of the tournament.
“We are building this year around being patient, disciplined, and emotionally in control,” Deacon said.
Florida will look to implement that discipline Monday in Round 2.
“It’s so much fun watching our guys improve on these skills every day,” Deacon said. “Another great chance to grow tomorrow.”
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J.C. Deacon looks on during the 2016 SunTrust Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.