On the third playoff hole of the SEC Championship, UF sophomore Andy Zhang had a chance at individual victory over Ole Miss’ Cecil Wegener with a putt just a couple feet away from the hole. He calmly sank the putt, pumped his fist, shook Wegener’s hand and embraced his coach, J.C. Deacon.
“You got it, you won,” Deacon said in between Zhang’s “Oh my God.”
Going into this week’s SEC Championship, UF sophomore Andy Zhang, who is turning pro after the season, had never won a collegiate golf tournament.
That all changed on Friday in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Zhang, like the rest of the No. 11 Florida team, struggled on the first day of the tournament before recovering on the second day and setting the pace on the third.
After the first 18 holes, Zhang shot 1 over and sat in a tie for 18th. His Florida team was tied for 12th in an event where only the top eight teams advance to match play.
Things started to turn around on the second day. Four of the five Gators shot at or below par, with Zhang leading the way again at 2 under. That put Zhang in a tie for seventh and Florida in a tie for eighth.
On Friday, the final day of stroke play, Zhang began the day at 1 under par but shot 4 under, tied for the lowest score of the day. Wegener, who was leading at 5 under for the tournament, shot an even par. The result was a tie for the lead after 54 holes and a playoff.
Florida shot an 8-under-par 272 as a team in the third round, the best score of the day. Zhang led the way, but Gordon Neale, John Axelsen and Alejandro Tosti all had their best rounds of the week at 2 under, 1 under and 1 under, respectively. Chris Nido also had his best round of the week, shooting an even par.
The Gators vaulted into a tie for second heading into match play, which begins on Saturday.
You can follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sophomore Andy Zhang finally broke through and won his first individual championship in 2018.