Florida men’s golf began its season on the right foot this past weekend.
The Gators won the Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend, Indiana, to open their 2022 season.
UF took home the hardware with a 21-under-par team performance. Florida just edged out Georgia Southern, who surged on the last day to finish in second at 20-under-par.
Florida was anchored by junior Quentin Debove. He led the lineup with a career-low 5-under-par 65 and then followed it up with a 2-under-par 68 Sunday. Debove closed the tournament Monday with an even-par 70. He paced UF on the individual leaderboard, finishing in a tie for fifth with North Carolina senior Dylan Menate.
Debove’s game has seen clear improvement from his previous best round, a 68 in the Gators Invitational last season. Debove demonstrated a complete game over the weekend, ranking second in the field with 10 birdies.
“He had his best collegiate finish this week and really carried us,” Florida head coach JC Deacon said. “When we get a top five from our five man in the lineup we should be pretty tough.”
Following Debove’s success, Florida shot a 10-under-par in the first round, leading all teams that day. The Gators’ round one score tied second amongst the lowest team scores for a single round behind North Carolina’s 14-under-par 266 in round two.
Defending Southeastern Conference champion John Dubois continued to improve his game over the weekend. He carded a 5-under-par 67 and 4-under-par 68 Sunday before staying even Monday to tie for third. Dubois started the season with four birdies in his first six holes. Senior Fred Biondi carded a pair of 68’s Sunday before a 1-under-par 79 tied him for fifth with Dubois.
Seniors Ricky Castillo and Yuxin Lin both came back in the second round with 1-under performances. Castillo struggled in the final round, shooting a 7-over-par 77. He finished the tournament tied for 48th. Lin, on the other hand, carded his best round Monday, a 3-under-par 67. He climbed the leaderboard to end the competition tied for 17th.
Florida combined for a tournament-leading 57 birdies and held the second lowest score to par on par 3s, 4s and 5s..
“Our Gators played some great golf. Top to bottom in the lineup and got a contribution from everyone,” Deacon said. “To shoot 21 under on that golf course is strong. I’m proud of them and happy to see all the smiles.”
Florida’s overall team score made program history. It ranks fourth lowest by score and is tied for 14th in score by par. This also marked history for Deacon, as this was his 16th win at Florida and the sixth in the last three seasons.
“Our Gators played some great golf. Top to bottom in the lineup and got a contribution from everyone,” Deacon said. “ To shoot 21 under on that golf course is strong. I’m proud of them and happy to see all the smiles.”
UF continues its Fall season at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational Sept. 16-18. The No. 9 Gators will face a field that includes No. 5 North Carolina, No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 17 Illinois.
Alyssa Britton-Harr is a first year journalism major. She is the Gator's golf men and women's beat reporter for The Alligator. When not reporting, Alyssa spends her time cheering on the Tampa Bay Bucs and Lightning as well as spending time with her friends and family.