The Florida Gators Men’s Golf team had their first tournament of the 2023-24 season this weekend. The team hit the road to travel to Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago for the Fighting Illini Invitational.
UF finished the tournament ninth out of 15 teams that competed.
In the opening round of the tournament, sophomore Matthew Kress led the Gators. Kress shot a team-low 2-under 68 during his first outing and was tied for sixth on the player leaderboard. After bogeying early in the round, Kress kept his composure to shoot for three straight birdies on holes 13-15.
The round one lineup also included three golfers making their debut for Florida. Long Beach State junior transfer Ian Gilligan posted a first round score of 73 to finish +3 . Redshirt freshman Luke Poulter finished T42 with Gilligan after his first collegiate action. freshman Jack Turner shot a 77 during round one.
Sophomore Parker Bell held down the No. 1 spot in the lineup for the Gators. Bell played a consistent round while only tallying two bogeys to his scorecard good for a 72 to finish +2.
In round two, the Gators found themselves as low as T13 on the team leaderboard. However, Gilligan’s 5-under 65 kept Florida competitive. The junior paced the Gators and helped position the team in ninth place at the end of round two action.
Gilligan managed to get into a great rhythm on the back nine with a bogeyless 4-under score. The Florida newcomer was tied for eighth and was 2-under in the tournament after his second round.
Bell bounced back after an underwhelming front nine. He shot a +3 on the front before collecting himself to go bogey-free on the back nine. Bell finished with a 72 in round two while Poulter shot a 72 as well.
Kress positioned himself T26 while Jack Turner rounded out the lineup T78 on the player leaderboard.
The final round of the Fighting Illini Invitational was canceled due to inclement weather. The forecast caused the course to be unplayable for the teams at Olympia Fields Country Club.
Florida finished the season opener with a ninth place finish after 36 holes. Gilligan finished a team best T8 after his impressive 5-under round on Saturday. Kress finished one stroke outside the top 25 for a T26 finish. Bell was just behind Kress as he completed the tournament T37.
North Carolina was named the winner of the tournament after the weather ended play earlier than expected. UNC shot 10-under 550, edging out the other 14 teams in the tournament.
Florida’s season continues next weekend as SEC play begins. The SEC Fall Preview at the Country Club of Birmingham will host the conference action. The tournament will be Sept. 26-27 and will include match and stroke play.
Contact Max at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MaxTuckerUF25.
Max Tucker is a junior transfer student at UF. After obtaining his A.A. in Journalism from Santa Fe College in 2023, he chose further his education at Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. Max is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a specialization in sports and media. He enjoys golfing and going to the beach with his friends in his free time. Max will be covering the Gators Golf teams this Fall for The Alligator.