The Florida Gators are in fifth place after a long first day of competition at the Gators Invitational.
A day that was only supposed to feature one round of play instead featured nearly two, as the tournament format was changed to deal with inclement weather. As a team, the Gators completed 27 holes on Friday, shooting a collective 13-under-par. They are seven shots back from the leading Georgia Bulldogs entering Saturday.
Individually, Florida received a huge boost from Joe Pagdin. The freshman started the day as the No. 3 golfer for Florida, but he shot a 65, his lowest round ever as a Gator, in his first 18 holes of the day. He currently is near the end of his second round and is even par. An eagle on the seventh hole highlighted Pagdin’s day, and he is in a tie for fourth, five strokes behind the leader, Tyler Phillips from Georgia.
UF also received a big day from freshman Tyler Wilkes. He had an opening-round 69 but followed that up with a big start to his second round that included two eagles, the first coming on seven, the same hole as Pagdin. The next came on No. 12, a 525-yard par 5. Wilkes has three holes to finish in his second round and is currently in a tie for 8th at 4-under-par.
Sophomore Yuxin Lin is 2-under-par for the tournament and in a tie for 27th. After shooting an opening-round 68, the former Trojan is even through 12 holes of his second round.
Sophomore Ricky Castillo, who entered the week as Florida’s No. 1 golfer, struggled out of the gate Friday. His opening round 71 was the highest score for the Gators in round one. He started to find his swing in the second round and is now back up to even par for the tournament with six holes left in round two. Finally, redshirt sophomore is 3-over-par for the tournament. He began the day by shooting an opening-round 69, but he’s struggled so far in the second round.
Head Coach JC Deacon knows his players have more in them, saying they have to play better.
“When you have a field this strong and this deep and you don’t play your best golf, it’s going to show,” Deacon said. “We have a great opportunity tomorrow to come out on our home course and play some great golf and get back in this thing.”
The Gators also have five golfers playing as individuals this weekend, meaning their scores will not count towards the team competition. Sophomore John DuBois led the way for this group, shooting an opening round 65. Both DuBois and Carlos Bustos are 2-under-par for the tournament.
Florida will return to the course bright and early tomorrow, as teams will start to go off at 8 a.m. Teams will conclude their second rounds, and, weather permitting, play the final round afterwards.
Live scoring updates can be found at Golfstat.com.
Contact Michael Hull at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33
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.