The Gators men’s golf team entered Tuesday leading the field in Jacksonville at the Sea Best Invitational. It finished the day in third place, shooting 9-over par in the final round and stumbling to finish 8-over for the tournament.
Florida senior Gordon Neale impressed throughout the tournament, finishing tied for second amongst the field after shooting 68 (-2) in the final round. Despite Neale’s performance, Florida couldn’t hold on to its lead and start the spring season with a big victory at TPC Sawgrass.
“I know we all wanted to win today, but we’re not ready yet,” coach JC Deacon said in a release following the loss. “We’ve got to look closely at what held us back and work to get better. When this team starts playing its best golf, we are going to be really tough.”
Florida sophomore Chris Nido struggled in the final round, notching four bogeys and two double-bogeys on his way to a 7-over-par finish. The Gators remaining three golfers — John Axelsen, Eugene Hong and Manny Girona — didn’t provide Neale much help either, combining to shoot +11 on the day. The Gators finished behind fellow-Sunshine State schools Florida State and North Florida, which finished even and three over for the tournament, respectively.
Though the men’s team was disappointed to leave Jacksonville with a third-place finish, it still had a decent weekend compared to the women’s team, which struggled in its opening tournament in Palos Verdes, California.
Florida entered the three-day tournament ranked No. 3, per the Golfstat team rankings but failed to compete for a top spot all weekend, hovering in the middle of the pack and ultimately finishing 13th.
Weather played a major factor at Palos Verdes Golf Club as no team shot below par over the course of the event, along with no players shooting under par in the final round.
Sophomore Addie Baggarly improved from her 78 (+7) performance on Monday to become the only Gator to shoot par or better during the whole event by shooting a 71 (E), moving up 19 spots on the final day. Other than Baggarly, UF’s struggles lasted all tournament, finishing 37 strokes back of tournament-winner Stanford at 52-over.
The men’s team returns to action Feb. 16-17 for its annual Gator Invitational where it’ll host some of the nations top teams at Mark Bostick Golf Course.
The women’s team travels to New Orleans that weekend to compete in the AllState Sugar Bowl, where it won the team title last year, and junior Sierra Brooks coasted to an individual title.
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Gordon Neale finished the Sea Best Invitational tied for second.