It was damage limitation mode for the No. 8 Florida men’s golf team after a brutal opening round at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Georgia.
The Gators sat in 11th place out of 14 teams after shooting 4 over on the event’s first day. They recovered on Saturday, shooting 9 under as a team. It was the second-best performance of the day, lifting the Gators all the way to seventh place. They continued their climb up the leaderboard on Sunday, shooting 5 under and finishing the event in sixth place.
“It's obviously a disappointing week for our team,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “Thankfully it came at a good time.”
Individually, junior Gordon Neale led the way for Florida. Neale, playing in the No. 1 spot of the Gators lineup for the fourth event in a row, had the worst score of all Florida players in the first round at 4 over. Like the team as a whole, he recovered, shooting 3-under on the second day and a team-best 4-under on the final day.
Neale’s final score of 213 was 3 under par and was good for a tie for 12th on the leaderboard. Sophomore Andy Zhang was one stroke behind Neale and finished in a tie for 17th. Redshirt sophomore Blake Dyer also shot a 214, but was competing at the event as an individual and did not factor into Florida’s overall score.
The worst three scores by Florida players belonged to the three freshmen in the lineup. Chris Nido shot 1 under, while Won Jun Lee shot 1 over and John Axelsen shot 3 over.
In an ominous sign for the Gators, conference rival Vanderbilt won this event. The No. 3 Commodores have won both events they have competed in with Florida during the spring season.
Vanderbilt and Florida won’t meet again until the Mason Rudolph Championship begins on April 13. The Mason Rudolph is also UF’s next competitive event, and the nearly month-long break between events is the longest Florida will have during the spring season.
“I know this will serve as a proper wake-up call,” Deacon said. “We need to be more prepared to play from the first hole on.”
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at email@example.com.
Despite a ninth-place finish at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational Coach J.C. Deacon is optimistic about his team's potential. “We have obviously not had our best stuff, but we have been extremely resilient,” Deacon said in a release. “Once we figure it out, we are going to be a top team.”