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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Florida men’s golf team defends its home course in Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational

Gators men’s golf team starts Spring season strong

Florida senior John DuBois walks off the green after making a put at the Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023
Florida senior John DuBois walks off the green after making a put at the Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023

The Florida Gators men’s golf team took first place at the Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday for the fourth consecutive time and the 29th time in program history. 

“We work really hard for these opportunities,” UF head coach J.C. Deacon said. “To be able to come home and get the job done is huge for our guys.”

The invitational took place, Feb. 11-12, at the Mark Bostick Golf course. The first 36 holes were set to take place on Saturday, and the last 18 holes Sunday. 

Round two of the invitational began but came to a halt during the 15th hole. The round was postponed due to weather conditions. Day two began with the remaining holes.

Florida finished round one nine-under-par — tied with Liberty for first  — for a score of 271. The Gators regained the advantage over the Flames at the start of the second round, erasing a four-stroke deficit. 

Six of Florida’s 11 players shot even or under par. Senior Fred Biondi shot five-under-par to tie Penn State sophomore Jake Griffin for first. 

The Gators carried their lead from the middle of round two into Sunday. They wrapped up the second round in front as well. 

Senior Ricky Castillo battled with Georgia Southern fifth-year Mason Williams in a playoff for medalist honors. After a bogey from Castillo on the 18th hole, they were tied at 11-under. Williams scored a bogey, and Castillo sank a par putt to secure his third collegiate victory and second win at the event since his freshman year. 

Castillo shot in the 60s in all three rounds, which resulted in a tie with the event round record set last year by his teammate,  Biondi. Castillo also tied his career-low, which he set in 2020 at the same tournament. He made 14 birdies over the weekend, and he’s recorded 404 in his career. 

“Ricky is as competitive as any kid I’ve ever coached,” Deacon said. “It’s his third win, and that’s really hard to do in our schedule year in, year out.”

The Florida B team participated in the tournament as well, finishing even par overall. Junior Tyler Wilkes notched a career-best finish at third. He shot six-under. 

“We call them the B team this week, but they are certainly not a B team,” said Deacon. 

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The Florida Gators men’s golf team finished 14-under-par and won the event by 18 strokes, winning their first two Spring tournaments by a combined 41 strokes.

Florida continues its Spring season at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Contact Madilyn Destefano at mdestefano@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @DestefanoMadi.


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