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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Florida seeks first SEC title in a decade at St. Simons Island

The Gators will look to take home its first SEC championship since 2011 this week

<p>Jenny Kim follows through during the Gators Invitational Feb. 22</p>

Jenny Kim follows through during the Gators Invitational Feb. 22

After a long season full of wins, losses and COVID-19 cancellations, the Florida Gators finally travel to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to compete in the 2021 SEC Championship.

The 17th-ranked Gators will battle a stacked field over five days of competition. Including Florida, eight SEC teams rank inside the top 25 of Golfstat’s rankings. 

The SEC Championship begins Wednesday and will continue through Sunday. The tournament starts out with three rounds of stroke play before the field is dwindled to eight teams for two rounds of match play over the weekend.

Florida’s lineup remains consistent with the rest of the season. Sophomore Ricky Castillo yet again serves as the No. 1 golfer for the Gators. 

At the Calusa Cup, Florida’s last regular season tournament, Castillo tied for 20th and shot 5-over-par. The Gators will need more out of their top player in Georgia this week if they want to take home their first title since 2011.

Sophomore Yuxin Lin and freshman Joe Pagdin slot in as the second and third golfers in the UF lineup, respectively. 

Lin’s up-and-down spring came to a disappointing end at the Calusa Cup, where he shot 9-over-par and finished in a tie for 28th. Pagdin, meanwhile, had his best finish of his young career in Naples, Florida, and finished in fifth place.

The other freshman phenom Tyler Wilkes acts as the fourth golfer for Florida this week. Wilkes had a solid spring campaign, which featured three straight finishes inside the top 20. Redshirt sophomore Fred Biondi will lead the Gators off Wednesday and serves as the No. 5 golfer. 

St. Simons Island, Georgia, and the Sea Island Club’s Seaside Course play host to the SEC Championship for the 20th year. 

The course stretches just over 7,000 yards and is a par-72 featuring seaside views and beautiful fairways. Golfers won’t be able to enjoy these views, though, as the course challenges even the best with its variety of hazards and unpredictable winds blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida attempts to win its first SEC Tournament in a decade this week. The last time the Gators took home the title, they were led by Andres Echaverria, who is now 33-years-old and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour. Overall, UF has taken home 15 SEC titles in the tournament’s 90 year history. 

Golfers tee off bright-and-early Wednesday. Biondi will begin play for Florida on the 10th hole at 7:50 a.m., with the other four golfers following behind in 10 minute increments. Live updates are available at

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Michael Hull

Michael Hull is a fourth-year journalism sports & media major and a sports writer at The Alligator. He hosts the weekly sports podcast and has worked on staff for five semesters. In the past, Hull has served as the sports editor, the men's and women's golf beat writer, the volleyball beat writer and the football beat writer. 

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