Since May 26, the Florida Gators men’s golf team has battled for the 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship. After a week's worth of competition on the green, the Gators claimed the national titleWednesday for the fifth time in program history and the first time under head coach J.C. Deacon.
Florida defeated Georgia Tech in the final round Wednesday, winning 3-1 in match play.
“We’ve always had the talent, these guys just had to grow up and they’ve committed to doing that the last three years,” Deacon said.
The starting lineup stayed consistent throughout the tournament with redshirt freshman Matthew Kress and seniors Ricky Castillo, Fred Biondi, John DuBois and Yuxin Lin leading the title run for the Gators.
The first match between Lin and Georgia Tech junior Christo Lamprecht teed off at 4:35 p.m. Lin held his ground through the front nine, but Lamprecht made a comeback on hole ten. With two clutch plays on holes 13 and 14, the senior secured the first point for the Gators on hole 15.
The four unfinished matches were tied to result in a tense finish.
DuBois was the second player of the tournament to put a point on the board. The senior and his opponent, Connor Howe, were neck and neck until DuBois shot a birdie on the ninth hole. Howe quickly took the lead before the two found themselves back in a tie. By the 18th hole, DuBois had two strokes to win the match for his team. It took him one.
The Gators were one point away from becoming national champions.
The second match between Kress and Georgia Tech’s Brett Forrester had a different outcome than the two prior. Forrester held the lead over Kress through the 12th hole before Kress came back to tie on 18.
Forrester moved the match to the 20th hole where Kress found himself in trouble. The redshirt freshman was in the sand and his opponent was just shy of the green.
Once out of the sand, Kress was 12 feet from the hole. Forrester had two strokes to put a point on the board for Georgia Tech. An even-par score won Forrester the match.
The fifth match was between Castillo and Georgia Tech senior Ross Steelman. The two had a rocky start — each missed the shot on the third hole. Castillo missed again on holes four and 17, but managed to go up by one stroke on hole 18 as Biondi battled Hiroshi Tai.
Match four between Biondi — the NCAA men’s individual champion — faced off against Tai. The two were tied for the majority of the front nine. Tai went up one stroke after a birdie on hole nine. Biondi came back to tie on hole 11.
By the 17th hole, Biondi and Tai found themselves in a tie once again. Tai landed a shot in a bunker. Biondi, slightly further from the hole than his opponent, had two strokes to bring home the title for his team.
“I worked as hard as I could and tried to bring in a ring or two and we did it,” Biondi said.
Despite Tai’s efforts, Biondi locked in the win. The Gators secured the team and individual national titles at Grayhawk Golf Club.
“We were dead yesterday and these guys just don’t quit,” Deacon said. “I’m so proud to be their coach.”