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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It was a tale of two rounds for the Gators women’s golf team this weekend in Northern California.

Friday’s first round at the Stanford Intercollegiate saw the No. 6 Florida squad combine for its highest single round team total all year, a 296 (12 over) team total that set it woefully in 15th place of 17 teams.

For the Gators — who made the trek to NorCal without senior star Sierra Brooks — it was a dismal start for a contingent that hasn’t finished worse than third in its three previous fall tournaments.

In Brooks’ absence (the Wake Forest transfer was in Venice, Florida, competing in Stage II of LPGA Tour Q-School), no Florida player matched or bettered par in round one.

Whatever caused the Gators to play so poorly on Stanford’s par 71 home layout on Friday was quickly erased from memory by Saturday’s second round.

Florida was brilliant, firing a blazing 10-under team total to climb nine spots up the leaderboard. Its second round 274 total was the lowest one-day team score of the tournament by four shots and positioned the Gators in sole sixth place by the day’s end.

Sophomore Clara Manzalini carded a near-flawless 66 (5 under), followed by a 68 from junior Elin Esborn and a 69 from senior Marta Perez. 

“The second round was special,” coach Emily Glaser said in a release at the tournament’s conclusion. “Not only because we went low, but because of how we were able to rebound after round one.”

Though Florida couldn’t fully retain the momentum that brought it back into the tournament a day prior, Sunday’s final round offered consistent play from Glaser’s squad.

Junior Addie Baggarly – playing at the No. 1 spot in place of Brooks – signed for a solid 69 to lead her team in Sunday’s final round. The Gators ended their stay in Stanford with a 286 (2 over) team total finishing in a tie for fifth.

After a successful fall campaign, Florida has plenty of positives to take into its four-month break from action before the season returns again in February. Brooks is a vital part of the program, but the Gators showed their depth and grit without their star at Stanford this weekend.

“We played with a lot of heart this week,” Glaser said.

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