Florida women’s golf made a run to the match play finals of last season’s Southeastern Conference tournament. After making the cut in stroke play, the Gators had the chance to best that achievement this time around.
However, UF failed to get past the first round of match play and will have to wait another year to add the program’s 10th conference title.
The No. 18 Florida Gators fell in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Women’s Golf Championship at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama. UF lost to the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies 4-1 in team match play after qualifying as a six seed in stroke play during the week.
The Gators started the conference tournament Wednesday with the first round of stroke play. Florida finished day one in second place, and three individual golfers placed in the top-15. Senior Marina Escobar led the way Wednesday with a one-under round that placed her tied for ninth.
Escobar and the Gators continued to perform into Thursday. The Almeria, Spain, native shot even par despite rainy conditions and moved to third place on the individual leaderboard. Florida slipped to eighth place in the team standings but still stood ahead of the cut line for the match play portion of the tournament.
UF secured a place in the matchplay quarter finals Friday. The Gators finished sixth in stroke play to make the match play cut for the second straight season and fourth time since 2018.
Senior Annabell Fuller posted a team-best one-under 71 Friday. The London native shot three under on the front nine and recovered from a pair of back-nine bogeys with a par-par-par finish. She finished tied for 15th place — a new career-best finish at the SEC Championship.
Escobar finished a strong stroke play performance with a one-over 73. The senior golfer finished tied for fourth — her best finish at the SEC Championship and the best finish from a Florida player.
Junior Maisie Filler and senior Jackie Lucena also helped secure UF’s place in match play. The duo posted top-30 finishes, and freshman Karoline Tuttle finished tied for 62nd in her first SEC Championship.
The Gators made a run to the match-play finals last season with wins against Ole Miss and Auburn, and Florida looked to make a similar run this year. The Aggies stood in the way of that.
Texas A&M started fast in Saturday’s quarterfinal match. The Aggies went up 2-0 early with victories in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Escobar trailed Texas A&M junior Zoe Slaughter by four holes after the front nine, but the Gators’ top golfer won three straight to flip the momentum.
Despite the comeback effort, Slaughter held off Escobar’s second-half push and took a key early point for the Aggies.
Filler put Florida back in the match with her duel against Texas A&M senior Jennie Park. The Gators’ junior battled in the first nine, and she took a lead with wins on the first two holes after the first nine. The two golfers halved 10 of the holes, but Filler secured the point for UF.
That was the lone point for the Gators in the match, however.
Lucena had a chance to tie the match through the No. 4 spot. The Chico, California, native trailed by two holes with two left to play, but she won the second-to-last to give herself a chance at the late tie. Texas A&M sophomore Adela Cernousek held off the late charge to win the match.
Aggies graduate student Hailee Cooper finished Florida’s conference tournament run with a victory over Tuttle in the No. 5 spot.
The Gators will wait to see where they fall in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regional selection April 26. The selection show will air live on the Golf Channel at 1 p.m.
Contact Topher Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Topher_Adams.
Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.