After defeating Georgia and Texas A&M to advance to the final round of the SEC Championship, the Gators ultimately fell to Vanderbilt in match play with a 3-2 loss.
The tournament, held at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simon’s, Georgia, lasted for a total of five days. The Gators held on through the quarterfinals and semifinals after strong showings as a team, even having the best individual finisher in the stroke play format, junior John DuBois.
In the quarterfinals, Florida took down the Bulldogs 3-1-1. The semifinals followed the same formula as UF defeated the Aggies by the same mark.
This tournament marked the first time since 2017 that the Gators had advanced to the final round of the tournament with the match play format added. Their runner-up finish was their 13th in program history and first since 2010.
Sophomore Tyler Wilkes played well throughout the day with back-to-back birdies on holes 12 and 13. The Tampa, Florida, native also almost buried an ace on 16. However, Vanderbilt took the point when Wilkes was edged out on the 18th hole.
DuBois, the individual champion from earlier in the week, also lost his point to the Commodores when William Moll came out 1-up.
Juniors Fred Biondi and Ricky Castillo brought a lot to the competition during match play to support their team. Biondi was 1-down through 10 but then carded four straight wins to go 3-up on 14. The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native went 2&1 for Florida.
In Castillo’s match, he did not lose a hole to Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent until hole 10. In those first 10, he had five birdies in a six hole stretch. Castillo also went 2&1 for Florida.
The final pairing was between Florida junior Yuxin Lin and Vanderbilt’s Cole Sherwood. The two went back and forth throughout the round with each having a 1-up lead in the first six holes. Lin tied the match with a win at the start of the turn, but Sherwood won three of the next five holes to secure a 3&2 point for Vanderbilt.
The victory is the second straight title for Vanderbilt. The Gators, in the meantime, are headed back to Gainesville where they will await their NCAA Regional destination. Regionals will be held May 16-18 and aired on Golf Channel.
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