The Florida men’s golf team entered this season with high expectations, but did not reach those heights in the opening meet of the season.
After placing eighth at the Fighting Illini Invitational, the Gators will look to rebound this week.
The road won’t get much easier for the team at the Colonial Collegiate Invitational, hosted by Texas Christian in Ft. Worth, Texas. Florida will encounter four teams in Golfweek’s top 10 as well as reigning national champions, Pepperdine.
Trouble reaching par
In the opening meet of the season, only one player managed an under-par round: Ricky Castillo, who shot 1-under in the second round. While the Gators finished the opening day in fifth place at 8-over, another 8-over round on day two sent Florida sliding down the leaderboard.
Even an improved final round which saw the team finish 6-over was not enough to reach the top half of the standings, as the Gators finished in a tie for eighth with Pepperdine. If Florida wants to climb up the standings this week against another elite slate of teams, head coach J.C. Deacon will need his leaders like Castillo and fellow junior Yuxin Lin to generate lower scores.
Another player the Gators could use improvement from is sophomore Joe Pagdin. After being named the SEC Freshman of the Year last spring, Pagdin finished the opening meet 10-over. The Sheffield, England, native is capable of providing a boost to Florida’s depth, and a better performance could help the team move closer to the podium by Tuesday.
Another loaded field
At Olympic Fields, the Gators faced four teams currently sitting in the top 10 of Golfweek’s rankings. On Monday at the Colonial Country Club, the team will face an equally stacked field; this time, the Gators will play alongside No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Texas and No. 7 Clemson.
Although the heightened competition will not directly impact how the Gators perform on the course, the level of play gives the team an unfiltered look as to how it compares to the nations’ best each meet. As a team with national championship aspirations, improved showings against top-10 opponents is the first step towards a deep run this spring.
The Gators will tee off on Monday morning, and live scoring can be found on GolfStat.com.
Contact Carson Cashion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @carsoncashion.