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Monday, November 28, 2022

Florida men’s golf loses its grip in the front nine, ending its season

The Gators, looking to be a part of the advancing eight to continue for a national title, fell short despite a solid start

Joe Pagdin of The University of Florida's men's golf team competes in the first round of the 2021 NCAA  Cle Elum Regional at Tumble Creek Golf Club in Cle Elum, Wash., on May 17, 2021. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)
Joe Pagdin of The University of Florida's men's golf team competes in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Cle Elum Regional at Tumble Creek Golf Club in Cle Elum, Wash., on May 17, 2021. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

After a weekend of battling elite competition, Florida found itself in an opportunity to advance to match play in the national championship as it would need to be a part of the top eight after Monday’s action in Scottsdale, Arizona, to advance. 

UF started the day in 11th place and five strokes back from Arkansas. The Gators needed to perform under par in round four to stay alive in the chase for a title.

The Gators would get on a hot start, moving up three spots into an advancing spot early. However, when they went to the front nine, everything fell apart.

The orange and blue began the day on the back nine strong, as four out of five Gators were even or under par through holes 10 and 11; that included junior Ricky Castillo, who had two straight birdies to start round four. 

All of the sudden, Florida tore through the course. Junior Yuxin Lin earned three straight birdies in the back nine as everyone else contributed with a pair or more birdies themselves. After completing the first seven holes, UF immediately jumped three spots and took the eighth spot early, going 4-under par to start as a team. 

Leaving the back nine, only redshirt junior Fred Biondi struggled to get below par as he went 4-above par due to finishing holes 17 and 18 with bogeys. Led by Castillo’s performance of going 2-under par in the back nine, the orange and blue looked to protect their position in the remaining nine holes. 

Unfortunately for the Gators, they would plummet away from an even par day as they struggled to look past bogeys in the beginning of the front nine. 

Sophomore Tyler Wilkes got seven bogeys out of his last nine holes. Including consistently getting six of those bogeys straight to accelerate his score to quickly go above par as he finished 6-above par for round four, despite going 1-under par in the back nine. 

Following in the footsteps of the sophomore, Lin and Castillo both were plagued by bogeys as well, each scoring five of them in the front nine. 

Despite Junior John Dubois and Biondi trying to save the sinking Gators by finishing the last nine holes below par, Florida dropped back to 11th place and fell away from any chances for a national team title in 2022. 

UF finished its NCAA National Championship run in 11th place, completing 1160 total shots and going 40-above par for the tournament.

Contact Brandon Hernandez at bhernandez@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.

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Brandon Hernandez

Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator, Gator Country and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.


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