Florida’s men’s golf team traveled to Las Vegas with high expectations after winning the Southern Highlands Invitational last year.
However, poor performances in the first two rounds of the event put the team in a hole it could not climb out of.
The Gators finished tied for 13th in 2019’s rendition of the tournament at 23 strokes over par on Tuesday, 37 strokes behind first-place Oklahoma.
UF had the opportunity to show it belonged among the top teams in the nation, with seven of Golfweek.com’s top 25 men’s college golf teams competing at the prestigious Southern Highlands Golf Club, but it failed to do so.
“Obviously a very disappointing event for our team,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “But there were some positives that came from it.”
The “positives” Deacon referred to were the play of sophomore John Axelsen, senior Gordon Neale and freshman Manny Girona on the last day of the Southern Highlands Invitational.
Axelsen recorded his best round of the tournament with a score of 1 under thanks to six birdies, three of which came in his final six holes.
His overall score of 3 over was good enough to lead Florida, but it tied the sophomore for 31st among all golfers at the event.
Neale notched three birdies and an eagle on his final five holes of the last round to finish the day with a score of even par.
The senior tied for seventh place in last year’s tournament, registering a score of 2 under. This time around, he posted an overall score of 7 over, tying him for 50th place.
Girona tallied a score of 1 under in the final round due to seven birdies, including two on his last three holes.
“Manny Girona played a phenomenal round of golf today,” Deacon said. “His finish has me sick because this kid deserves better.”
Freshman Aden Ye participated as an individual after losing out to sophomore Chris Nido in a playoff to determine the final spot in UF’s lineup. Ye finished with an overall score of 20 over, while Nido shot a 10-over.
The Gators will have more than three weeks to prepare for their next tournament, The Goodwin in Palo Alto, California.
“We need to get back to doing what we do best and that’s working hard and loving the game,” Deacon said. “I know our best golf is still ahead of us.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Gordon Neale finished at 7 over, tied for 50th place, in the Southern Highlands Invitational.