Another shaky opening day, another rebound
In the first meet of the season, the Cougar Classic, the Gators had trouble starting strong. Only one golfer managed to score under par, sophomore Maisie Filler, and Florida sat in fifth place after eighteen holes.
After round one in Music City, history repeated itself.
Only one golfer broke par by the end of the first day, this time junior Annabell Fuller. The rest of the lineup finished over par, and juniors Marina Escobar and Jackie Lucena both suffered double bogeys. Lucena finished with two birdies and a 5-over 77.
In a tie with Northwestern at 2-over, the team once again found itself needing to climb back up the rankings in the following two rounds. Meanwhile, Oregon made a statement with a 12-under opening round, securing a place atop the leaderboard that the team did not surrender the rest of the weekend.
Following the same arc from Houston, the team again rebounded in round two. Senior Clara Manzalini recorded five birdies en route to a 4-under 68, and Fuller’s birdie in the 18th hole secured a 3-under 69 for the Kingston upon Thames, England, native. Florida’s five starters poured in 16 birdies between them in a 6-under 288 team effort. 6-over rounds for both Clemson and Vanderbilt slid the Commodores and Tigers down the rankings, opening room for Florida to reach the podium.
Filler brings Gators home
Entering the final round of play on Sunday, summiting the standings and surpassing Oregon for a victory was unlikely; the Ducks sat 13 strokes ahead of Florida. The Gators still needed to defend third from conference rival Kentucky and potentially beat out Alabama for second.
Filler again provided the highlight of an up-and-down final 18 holes. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, native buried six birdies to lay the blueprint for her 5-under final round, including four in her final five holes. Manzalini and Escobar teamed for 10 birdies and matching 2-under 70s.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, Fuller encountered four bogeys and a double bogey that dropped her score to +3 for the round. Thanks to two solid opening rounds, her overall score stayed under par at -1.
Despite out-pacing the Crimson Tide by eight strokes in the final round, Florida came up just short of surpassing their SEC foe, finishing one stroke shy of second place. The Gators still secured a second straight third-place finish at 11-under for the week. Manzalini tied for seventh in the individual leaderboards, and Filler tied for tenth.
The Gators will seek their first meet victory on Oct. 4 at the Windy City Classic in Chicago.
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