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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Most college students would love to spend their spring break in Las Vegas, but for the No. 22 Gators this weekend's trip was all business. 

UF finished fourth in the Southern Highlands Collegiate, which is actually quite impressive considering coach J.C. Deacon described it as the toughest regular season event the team has faced.

Tough may be an understatement though, considering the tournament included the top five teams in the nation along with seven other ranked teams to bring the total to 12 out of the 15. 

This along with extreme 30 mph winds on day one would’ve been great excuses for the Gators, but the team made none and finished the first round at seven-over par and in a tie for fourth place. 

I could not be more impressed with how we handled it,” Deacon said in a release. “We controlled our emotions and stayed patient. When this team does those two things we are really good.” 

The second and third rounds went even better than the first, as the Gators combined to shoot one under par on those two days and moved up to as high as third in the team leaderboard. 

The star of the tournament for Florida was freshman Ricky Castillo, who followed up two straight tournament wins with a performance that saw him shoot five-under par and place sixth in the individual leaderboard. 

“Having Ricky lead us like this is so huge. He's playing at an unbelievable level and setting a great example with his patience and composure,” Deacon said in a release. “The work he's put in on his mental game continues to pay off."

Other than Castillo, junior John Axelsen had a very strong finish that saw him shoot his best in round three with a three-under par. For the tournament, the junior shot two-under par and placed ninth in the individual leaderboard. 

Redshirt senior Blake Dyer had a great first round and third round that saw him shoot one over par, his best score of the tournament. Dyer ended up finishing at five-over par and placed 30th in the individual leaderboard. 

Freshman John Dubois and Junior Chris Nido rounded out the Gators team at 60th and 48th place after shooting 12-over par and nine-over par for the tournament. Most of their struggles came on day one due to the inclement weather, but they both rallied and shot much more respectively on day 2 and 3. 

No. 37 University of Southern California won the tournament after shooting three-under par, 10 strokes better than UF’s fourth place finish.

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Looking ahead, Florida has a two and a half week break before it travels to North Carolina for the Tarheel Collegiate on March 21 and 22.

Follow Christian Berry on Twitter @Berry05219. Contact him at


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