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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This week’s performance from the Gators men’s golf team presented both positives and negatives.

On one hand, Florida strung together a pair of under-par team totals for the first time this fall, including a season-best 285 (3 under) effort in Sunday’s first round.

On the other, a second-round 296 (8 over) dissolved any hopes of contending for a title and sent UF tumbling seven spots down the leaderboard, from which it never recovered.

The Gators finished seventh out of 15 teams this week at the UCF-hosted Tavistock Collegiate Invitational — tying the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational for their highest finish of the fall. UF will enter its three-month mid-season break with plenty to improve upon.

It’s been a recurring theme throughout the fall slate of events — inconsistent form over the course of 54 holes restricting the men from gaining momentum.

Florida played admirably on Isleworth Golf and Country Club’s brutal championship layout in Sunday’s first round and trailed then-leader UCF by a mere five strokes.

Monday’s second go-around, however, was a different story.

Junior John Axelsen continued his fall stretch of steady form at the No. 1 spot, carding a 71 (1 under) on day two. But behind him, a pair of 73s from junior Chris Nido and freshman Ricky Castillo sent the Gators stumbling in the wrong direction. A 7-over 79 from freshman John DuBois only added to the mess, and UF entered Tuesday’s final round in ninth place.

“Today was not the day we were looking for,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release following his team’s second round. “(It) showed us that we have a long way to go if we want to be a championship team.”

Tuesday’s final round ended the fall campaign on a high – Axelsen’s 74 was the best UF score on the day en route to a 286 (2 under) team total – but it came too late.

For Deacon, building a winning program over the next three months of hiatus will be a tall task, but an important spring season awaits.

“The next three months are going to be pivotal for all of us,” the veteran coach said. “We’ve got a lot to prove to ourselves and our competition.”

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Follow jack Braverman on Twitter @jack_braverman. Contact him at jbraverman@alligator.org

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