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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Early round struggles prove fatal for Florida at Isleworth Collegiate

The Florida men’s golf team finished the fall portion of its schedule this weekend with a tie for fifth

<p>Florida&#x27;s Fred Biondi tees off during the SEC Match Play Championships at Shoal Creek Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Biondi will compete in the U.S. Open this year.</p>

Florida's Fred Biondi tees off during the SEC Match Play Championships at Shoal Creek Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Biondi will compete in the U.S. Open this year.

The Florida Gators put the finishing touches on their fall campaign this week in their closest tournament to home of the semester. 

The team teed off in Windermere, Florida, to compete at the Isleworth Collegiate, hoping to finish on a high note after a disappointing couple of months.

Highlighted by multiple eagles from junior Fred Biondi, the team did just that, tying with South Carolina for fifth place at the tournament, its highest finish so far this season.

More Early Struggles

The team has struggled off the starting line at tournaments this year — as recently as last week, the Gators fell to the lower-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks in the opening round of the SEC Match Play Championship. The problem persisted in round one at Isleworth.

Florida’s lineup failed to break ground in the opening 18 on Sunday, as every Gators golfer finished over par. Juniors Yuxin Lin, Ricky Castillo and Biondi all shot 1-over 73s. 

Castillo led the trio with five birdies, but a double bogey on the third hole knocked him above par. Biondi carded an eagle on hole 13, but his four bogeys kept him at 73 as well. Sophomore John Dubois turned in the last score to count in the lineup, adding up a 2-over 74 after he totaled three birdies but five bogeys. Senior Giovanni Manzoni finished out the lineup, suffering two double bogeys to fall to 5-over. The Gators sat in 10th at 5-over after round one.

Despite two under-par finishes from the Gators in round two, the team’s final score took a two-stroke dip. Lin and Castillo once again led the way, combining for seven birdies; both juniors finished at 1-under, 71, their first under-par rounds of the tournament. 

Biondi finished with the third-best round, but he could only manage 5-over. Despite a Dubois eagle, seven bogeys and one triple-bogey plummeted the sophomore’s score to 7-over. Manzoni again finished in fifth but improved one stroke from round one and finished at 4-over. The turbulent round still pushed Florida up the leaderboard to ninth, as California slid to 10th. 

Finishing Strong

In the final round of play on Tuesday, the lineup once again experienced mercurial play. 

Castillo suffered his worst round at Isleworth Country Club; the California native endured two bogeys, one double bogey, one triple bogey and a final quadruple bogey on the eighth hole. The 10-over round dropped him well outside of the top 25 on the individual leaderboard. 

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Manzoni produced his best round yet, though, with a 1-over at 73. Dubois also finished with his best round of the tournament, breaking par for the first time (1-under 71) in Windermere with the help of yet another eagle. Lin finished 1-under at 71 as well, but it was Biondi who broke out on Tuesday. 

The Brazilian poured in six birdies in the final 18, earning him a score of 5-under to vault into the top 25 leaderboard.

When Florida’s final putt dropped, the team sat in 6th place. After the teams around the Gatorswrapped up, though, South Carolina dropped to 6-over, moving the Gators up to a tie for fifth place. 

The finish was the highest placement of the team this season, Florida’s first finish in the upper half of the leaderboard. Two members garnered two top-25 finishes. Lin placed 10th at 1-under for the tournament, and Biondi ended in a tie for 13th at 1-over.

This tournament concludes the fall schedule for the men’s team. After a disappointing opening semester, head coach J.C. Deacon and his men have plenty of time to improve before their next meet on Jan. 31 at the Sea Best Invitational in Jacksonville.

Contact Carson Cashion at Follow him on Twitter @carsoncashion.

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Carson Cashion

Carson Cashion is a third-year sports journalism major at UF, and the sports editor at The Alligator for the 2022 summer semester. A native of Altamonte Springs, Carson spends his free time walking his dog, Baxter, and listening to good music. He is an avid Tennessee sports fan, and eagerly awaits watching one of his teams win a championship for the first time.

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