The Florida men’s golf team finished runner-up in the stroke play competition at the Timuquana Collegiate in Jacksonville, Florida, Monday.
The 36-hole event featured 11 schools from across the country. Florida was able to jump out to a three-stroke lead at one point during the day, but they couldn’t hold off the competition.
The Gators shot 17-under-par collectively, trailing only Virginia, who shot 24-under.
Florida led the way in multiple categories over the 36 holes of play. It averaged the lowest score on both par 3s (2.93) and par 5s (4.43).
All five Gators who competed for the team finished in the top 30 individually. Sophomore Ricky Castillo tied for sixth, shooting 7-under-par, while freshman Tyler Wilkes and redshirt junior Manuel Girona each tied for 16th at 3-under-par. Freshman Joe Pagdin and sophomore Yuxin Lin both finished tied for 28th, shooting 1-under-par.
Wilkes paced the field after the first 18 holes of play with a suburb 5-under-par. While he couldn’t keep that momentum going in the afternoon, Castillo surged ahead for Florida, shooting 4-under-par during his second 18.
“Wilkes came up so big with that first round 67,” Florida coach J.C. Deacon said. “We all know how talented Tyler is,and it was nice to see him put it together. I think this round will really help him get going this year.”
While it was a strong day overall for the Gators, they dominated one hole in particular. The sixth hole at Timuquana is a 512-yard par 5, but they made it look simple. Three Gators eagled the hole: Wilkes, Castillo and Carlos Bustos. While Bustos’ score didn’t count toward Florida’s team score, he still finished in the top 50 individually.
Deacon was impressed with his players today, saying how great it was to be competing again.
“We had an up and down afternoon, but our guys showed a ton of heart at the end and finished really strong,” Deacon said. “We are a very close team and the guys are loving battling together.”
The Gators will compete in a match-play style event tomorrow. This competition will start at 8:05 a.m. Follow along live at Golfstat.com.
Michael Hull is a third-year journalism major with a specialization in sports & media. He has a minor in business and leadership and is a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars fan.