The Florida women’s golf team began this year’s campaign off without skipping a beat, finishing on the podium in each of its first two tournaments. The team arrived in Wilmette, Illinois, for the Windy City Classic with the allure of a tournament win in its sights.
The team did not capture the first outright victory of the year in Illinois, but the Gators found themselves in an all-too-familiar place on the leaderboard, finishing third for the third tournament in a row with a 26-over final score.
Breakout performance from Lucena
UF wrapped up the opening round in familiar territory: third place. This time, however, a new face led the way for Florida.
After ending both of the first two tournaments with the highest score in Florida’s lineup, junior Jackie Lucena made a statement in the opening round with six birdies early Monday. The transfer from The University of California, Davis, sat second on the individual leaderboard after round one, the lowest player in orange and blue.
The next closest score came from sophomore Maisie Filler, who finished 3-over and ended as the only other Gator in the top 25, sitting in a tie for 21st.
Junior Marina Escobar struggled in the opening round after two double bogeys and three bogeys slid her down to a 5-over 77. Senior Clara Manzalini avoided any double bogeys of her own, but five bogeys dropped her score to 4-over.
Florida finished the round 9-over, just one stroke shy of Texas for second place and within striking distance of first-place Stanford.
Darkness suspended the second round Monday evening, splitting the second 18 between Monday and Tuesday. Lucena cooled off slightly, only mustering a 1-over round, but still held the lead for the lineup. Juniors Escobar and Annabell Fuller bounced back from less-than-stellar opening rounds with 3-over and 1-over scores, respectively.
Filler suffered six bogeys, however, to drop herself down with a 5-over 77, and Manzalini put up an identical score from her first round, 76, which rounded the Gators score out yet another 9-over 297. No team distanced themselves on the leaderboard, however, and the Gators still sat in third.
Closing out on Tuesday
In the final round of the tournament, Lucena flashed her first-round form once again, tallying three birdies en route to a 1-under 71 to close the week. The California native’s performance secured a second-place finish in the individual leaderboard, her best of the year thus far.
The rest of the lineup did its part as well, combining for its best round of the tournament.
Escobar, Filler and Fuller all shot 3-over on the strength of nine combined birdies from the golfers. Manzalini struggled to an 8-over round, but her score was dropped.
After the entire field had finished, Florida once again sat in third place.
While the Gators did not secure the first victory of the season, the podium finish offers some consolation. The team’s consistency will be put to the test again from Oct. 25-27 at The Ally at Old Waverly in Mississippi after a few weeks off.
Contact Carson Cashion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @carsoncashion.