The Gators put together a gutsy final round in Cle Elum, Washington, and secured a fifth-place finish and a trip to the desert.
Florida heads to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona to compete against the best teams in the country for a chance at a national championship.
The field is composed of 30 teams, and the event begins with three rounds of stroke play starting on Friday. After the first 54 holes, the top-15 teams and nine individuals not on those teams will advance to a final day of stroke play Monday. The top-eight teams will advance to match play Tuesday and Wednesday.
One team will stand above the rest at the end of six straight days and 144 holes of play, and the Gators hope to be in the conversation as the field dwindles down.
Arizona State hosts the championship at Greyhawk Golf Club, the site of both the men’s and women’s championships. The tournament will be played on the Tom Fazio-designed Raptor course, a 7,289-yard, par-70 layout.
Florida scraped by in the regionals after a shaky start to get to Scottsdale.
The Gators sat in a tie for eighth following an even-par opening round. They held eighth by themselves after a 6-over-par 290 on day two left them six strokes below the cutline. Their season was in jeopardy.
Needless to say, Ricky Castillo and his team were up to the challenge.
The Gators climbed the leaderboard during the final round as teams ahead of them, like Utah and Washington, stumbled. Florida only matched its first round even-par, but the fifth-place final position was all that mattered. The Gators survived and advanced.
Including No. 17 Florida, 21 of the teams in Golfstat’s top-25 rankings reached the competition. As expected, it is the most competitive event the Gators will participate in all season.
Florida brings the same five starters to Arizona as it took to Washington. However, there is one addition since the championship calls for a six-man team. The Gators competing are:
No. 1 - Ricky Castillo
No. 2 - Joe Pagdin
No. 3 - Tyler Wilkes
No. 4 - Giovanni Manzoni
No. 5 - Yuxin Lin
No. 6 - John DuBois
Florida will play alongside Southern Methodist and San Francisco during the opening round. Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.com.
Contact Joseph Henry at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Josephhenry2424
Joseph Henry is a fourth-year sports journalism major and is the Alligator's sports editor. He previously worked as senior news director, assistant sports editor, men's basketball beat reporter, volleyball beat reporter and golf beat reporter. He enjoys sitting down to watch a movie as often as possible, collecting vinyl and drinking Dr. Pepper.