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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Fred Biondi wins NCAA National Championship individual title

Biondi is the third UF golfer in program history to win the individual crown

Senior Fred Biondi follows through on his swing at the Sea Best Invitational Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.
Senior Fred Biondi follows through on his swing at the Sea Best Invitational Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

Florida Gators golfer Fred Biondi took home the National Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship individual title Monday despite the odds not being in his favor. 

The Florida men’s golf team traveled to Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 26 to compete in the NCAA National Championship tournament Friday. Senior Fred Biondi erased a five-stroke deficit in the fourth round to earn the individual title

The Brazilian is the first Latin American champion ever and first international player to win since  University of Illinois golfer and Belgium native Thomas Pieters in 2012. Biondi is the third Gator to win the individual title, joining Nick Gilliam (2001) and Bobby Murphy (1966).

Biondi rallied from five shots down to earn the crown after recording his fourth round in the 60s (69-68-69-67). He entered the day behind Georgia Tech’s Ross Steelman to finish three-under-par 70. After multiple birdies in the early moments of Monday’s play, he brought down the deficit to one stroke by the sixth hole.

“I just stayed really patient. That was the whole key today,” Biondi said. 

Head coach J.C. Deacon explained Biondi's had a history for pulling through in the final round in the past. 

Biondi said it wasn’t until the 15th hole when he knew he was within reach of first individually.

“There was a big screen right behind 15,” Biondi said. “I saw that I was tied for the lead there.”

The senior was approaching the 17th hole. After peeking back up at the scoreboard, he saw his opponent made five.

Biondi then jumped into the lead following a bogey on 17 from Steelman.

“I just knew I had to par out," Biondi said. 

Biondi walked down to the 18th hole with his mom,dad and the Grayhawk crowd gathered around to watch. The Brazilian set himself up for a two-putt-par and was crowned champion.

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Following his fourth collegiate title, Biondi also received the 2023 Division I Arnold Palmer Champion Award. He finished ranked No. 2 in the PGA Tour University Rankings alongside his teammates, seniors Ricky Castillo (No. 9) and Yuxin Lin (No. 10).

Biondi qualified for full exemption for the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023 and a spot in the final stage of the 2023 PGA Tour Q-School. The top-five finishers have the opportunity to earn PGA Tour cards and earn the ability to accept an unlimited amount of sponsor exemptions in 2023 and 2024. 

While Monday was filled with achievements for the Gator, his team still has the opportunity to win the National Championship Tuesday. The No. 2 seed Gators will tee off at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday against the No. 7 seed Virginia in match play. It is the first time in program history UF advanced to match play. 

“It’s the national championship and all the guys here are pretty hungry to win too,” Biondi said. “[I] have to put this behind me, enjoy it this afternoon and tonight, but be ready to go tomorrow morning.”

Contact Madilyn Destefano at Follow her on Twitter @DestefanoMadi.

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