If the Florida women’s golf team has been anything in this season so far, it’s consistent. Finishing third in both of their opening meets after sitting in fifth at the end of the first round, the Gators hope to maintain their status at the top of leaderboards going forward, and potentially avoid the opening-round slumps they have been plagued with.
The team will travel to the northernmost meet on its regular-season schedule Monday, competing at the Windy City Classic in Wilmette, Illinois. Two squads from the season-opening Mason Rudolph Championship await Florida for a second time; the top-ranked Oregon Ducks, who were the sole victors in Nashville, Tennessee, and the 13th-place Northwestern Wildcats, who serve as the hosts this week.
Despite finishing on the podium in each of the first two meets of the fall, it is hard to not wonder what the Gators’ ceiling could be with improved opening rounds. Through the two opening rounds Florida has played, the team is a combined 1-over. In the four other rounds the team has played, though, they’re a remarkable 25-under.
The team has not necessarily played poorly in the opening rounds, but the success it has enjoyed in the later rounds of tournaments points to Florida’s ability to challenge for wins when in groove. It remains to be seen if the Gators can reach that peak, but they will have a formidable test in Illinois that could launch them into the center of national conversation.
Gators try to keep pace with the Ducks
Oregon finished round one atop the leaderboard of the Mason Rudolph Championship, and the team never looked back. The Ducks’ score of 26-under was the biggest win in program history, highlighted by a 17-under performance from sophomore Hsin-Yu Lu. This showing vaulted the Ducks to the No. 1 spot in Golfweek’s Sagarin rankings; while Florida now sits at No. 9.
Even with the historic weekend for Oregon, Florida kept pace with them after Friday; the Ducks outplayed the Gators by a single stroke across the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday. Sophomore Maisie Filler helped Florida hang with Oregon by producing a career-low score of 67 (-5) in the final round. A faster start from the Gators in Wilmette could provide an opportunity to bring some hardware home to Gainesville.
Filler has been the breakout star of the season so far. After a solid freshman season, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, native raised the bar, sitting at a combined score of 6-under through six rounds of play. Senior Clara Manzalini also contributed to Florida’s success; the Italian led the Gators in the Mason Rudolph Classic, scoring five-under for the weekend.
The Windy City Classic will tee off on Monday morning in Wilmette, and live scoring can be found on Golfstat.com
Contact Carson Cashion at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @carsoncashion.