The Florida Gators men’s golf team experienced some growing pains to start the 2021-2022 campaign.
After an eighth-place finish to start the season in Illinois, the team only managed 12th in a 15-team field at the Colonial Collegiate Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas.
Junior Yuxin Lin stood out for Florida, but the lineup as a whole was unable to summon what it took to reach the upper echelon of the standings.
Lin Shines on Monday
Lin started his season off in ready form at the Fighting Illini Invitational, earning a top-20 finish while also notching a hole-in-one in the opening round. On Monday, he picked up right where he left off.
The Beijing native served as the gold standard for the Gators for the opening round of the day, pouring in six birdies, tied for the most among golfers in the opening round, and finishing at 6-under par. Not only did Lin lead his team, he led the tournament, too, sitting atop the individual leaderboard by a stroke.
The rest of the team did not fare as favorably, though, as Lin was the only player to break par for round one.
Despite four birdies on his card, sophomore Joe Pagdin suffered six bogeys to drop his score to 2-over. Junior Ricky Castillo double bogeyed the 11th hole, helping send his score to 3-over. Despite the master-class from Lin, the Gators were stuck looking up at the podium from fifth place.
With three rounds to play in the two-day tournament, the team had a quick turnaround for Monday’s second round. This time, Lin shared the lead for the team with Castillo and sophomore John Dubois, all three of them signing for 4-over 74s. Pagdin double bogeyed on the 15th hole and made six bogeys again, offsetting his three birdies and ballooning his score to 5-over.
Despite a ten-stroke increase from round two to round one, Lin still remained tied for second individually after both rounds, only trailing Wake Forest’s Michael Brennan by four strokes.
Still, the team at large fell to ninth place; the Gators would need to give Lin some help if they wanted to make a push for the podium.
Final round struggles
In a round where the team would need a miracle to find itself in the top three, Lin instead fell further back to earth with another 4-over round. This dropped him out of the top 10 in the individual standings, finishing two-over for the tournament and in a tie for 13th.
The rest of the lineup couldn’t find a groove either, as Castillo and Dubois both finished 5-over.
Pagdin stuck out as the lone exception, however, as he produced a tournament-best 1-over round to lead the team.
His effort was not enough to help the team, though, as the Gators finished with an overall score of 33-over. When the last scorecard was signed, Florida sat in 12th place, the team’s second meet in a row in the bottom half of the standings.
The Gators return to action Oct. 10, when they head to Birmingham, Alabama, for the SEC Match Play Championship.
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