Everything seemed locked into place ahead of the final round at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational on Tuesday. The Gators were slotted into 10th place out of 15 teams; it looked like they would need their very best to overcome a six-stroke deficit over Illinois, and it would take another bad round for UCF to make up eight strokes to pass UF.
But movement was the name of the game on Tuesday. Fourteen of the 15 teams in the tournament moved up or down in the standings by the end of the final round. Vanderbilt was the only team that did not move, as it ran away with the competition, winning by 20 strokes at 31 strokes under par.
The Gators moved up one spot and finished in ninth place after a one-over round as a team, a round that was a 10-stroke improvement over Monday’s performance. They were the beneficiary of a 10-over collapse by Illinois, which finished tied for 10th with UCF.
“We have obviously not had our best stuff, but we have been extremely resilient,” coach JC Deacon said in a release. “Once we figure it out, we are going to be a top team.”
UF had a problem at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational that it has faced throughout its fall slate: a lack of high-end individual performances. The Gators have only had two players with top-10 finishes — which happened at the Trinity Forest Invitational on Sept. 25 — and five top-20 finishes.
Freshman Aden Ye (E) was the only UF golfer to finish in the top 20 with his 17th-place result, his best finish of the fall season. Ye’s score throughout the weekend was like a college student’s bank account, always hovering around zero as he posted three consecutive even scores.
Senior Gordon Neale (+6) looked like his struggles would continue after a bogey and a double bogey to begin his round. He reeled off four straight birdies after that, however, and had four more on the back nine, but two bogeys to close out his round brought him back down to earth.
Neale finished in a tie for 38th, but his 23-place rise in the standings was the biggest of any UF golfer on Monday and played a role in Florida’s one-spot climb in the standings.
Sophomore Chris Nido (+4) had a solid start with an opening round that placed him in a tie for third. He could not replicate his success over the last two days, though, and he fell to a tie for 17th after Day 2 and then to a tie for 29th by the end of the tournament.
Sophomore John Axelsen (+6) and freshman Eugene Hong (+7) had disappointing tournaments, tying for 38th place and 46th place, respectively.
The Tavistock Collegiate Invitational saw the end of a fall season where the Gators’ best finish was fourth place. Deacon wasn’t satisfied with their performance during this fall season, but he did have some Tebow-esque confidence about his team.
“Thankfully, they don’t hand out any rings in the fall,” he said. “We’ve got some time to get it right and I promise there won’t be a team that works harder than we are going to work over the next three months.”
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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.”