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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Lucena’s hole-in-one lifts Gators to third-place finish

Florida’s women’s golf team improves at Moon Golf Invitational

Florida senior golfer Jackie Lucena swings her club in round 3 of The "Mo" Morial Invitational Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
Florida senior golfer Jackie Lucena swings her club in round 3 of The "Mo" Morial Invitational Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

Senior Jackie Lucena shot a hole-in-one to lead the Gators through the final round of the Moon Golf Invitational.

Florida’s women’s golf team traveled to Melbourne, Florida, to compete in the tournament Feb. 19.

After finishing in 12th last week, the Gators secured third place — trailing Louisiana State and Northwestern — with an 18-under-par 864.

"I'm really happy to see the perseverance of this group after a tough outing last week,” head coach Emily Glaser said. “Every week we are learning and getting better.”

UF was off to a good start on day one; it tied its season best with a seven-under-par 288 in round one.

Senior Annabell Fuller continued her strong start to the Spring season and tied her career low with a six-under-par 72. She completed round one tied for second, only one stroke back from the lead. 

The team was only two strokes back from the lead after Lucena made a birdie on the tenth hole. The senior was four-under-par in her first 12 holes and ended her round with a birdie to bounce back after two late bogeys on holes 16 and 17.

The Gators were tied for fourth moving into the second day.

Fuller continued to shine on day two. After tying her career low the day prior, she scored a 69 to tie for second place. The senior played bogey-free through the first 36 holes of the tournament, finishing nine-under-par before going into round three.  

Florida shot under par both days, with a five-under-par 288 in round two. The team was tied for third and trailed Central Florida and Northwestern by only three strokes as they moved into day three. 

Lucena stood out from the rest of the competition in round three. Tying her career low with a six-under-par 72, she shot a hole-in-one on hole 16. She went birdie-birdie on the last two holes to finish.

“She's been patient with her game, and it paid off this week,” Glaser said. 

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Florida entered the last day 14 strokes back from the lead.  They combined for six-under-par and earned a final-round score of 282 for a season-best 18-under-par 864 — tied for the sixth-best score in program history. 

This tournament marked a season-best finish for the Gators and their all-time best score at the Moon Golf Invitational. 

Fuller finished nine-under-par and in fourth place; she earned her third top-five finish this year. Fuller is one top-10 finish away from her third consecutive season with four such finishes.

"Another great tournament from Annabell, she's been working hard and is very motivated,” Glaser said. “We will continue to keep our eyes forward and are excited to compete at home in a few weeks.”

The Gators will continue their season when they host the 51st VyStar Credit Union Gators Invitational March 4-5.

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

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