The Florida Gators Men’s Golf team came up just short in match play against Florida State and Georgia Tech at the East Lake Cup in Atlanta, Georgia. The Gators made it to the consolation finals on the last day of the event.
Freshman Luke Poulter led the Gators in the stroke-play portion of the four team event.
Poulter was tied for the lead after a 5-under five-hole stretch. The freshman lost some momentum down the stretch after a bogey and double led to his 1-under, T6 finish.
Sophomore Matthew Kress had a slow start to his round. He regrouped with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12. A dart from the fairway on hole 18 set up a tap-in birdie for the sophomore. He posted an even-par 72 to finish tied for eighth.
Junior Ian Gilligan also had impressive performances on 11 and 12. He became one of four Gators in Monday’s lineup to record consecutive birdies on these holes. Gilligan wrapped up a consistent round and finished 71 (+1) to tie for 11th.
The rest of UF’s lineup featured sophomore Parker Bell, T16, and senior Tyler Wilkes in 19th.
On day two of the event, Florida battled Florida State during match play in the semifinal at the East Lake Cup. The Seminoles held off a late rally by the Gators to secure the 3-2 victory.
Kress put together an impressive comeback after being down four through 14. He sunk three consecutive par putts to shrink his deficit to just 1-down heading to 18.
After two great drives from the tee box, Kress and his opponent were each set up with a birdie putt on 18. Luke Clanton from FSU made his putt to hold off the comeback and win the match for the Seminoles.
Wilkes got the day started for the Gators tallying the first point of the day with a 5 & 3 victory. After being down two through six, he won six of the last nine holes to put an exclamation mark on his match. The senior was dialed in to start the back nine winning holes 10-12.
Florida State tied the match 1-1 after Bell was edged by Tyler Weaver 2 & 1. The Gators responded with a solid round from Poulter who posted Florida’s second point of the day. He dropped only two of his 15 holes played en route to a 4 & 3 win.
FSU bounced back to once again tie the match 2-2. The Seminoles managed to come out victorious after Gray Albright defeated Gilligan 3 & 1.
The final day of the event featured a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship Finals against Georgia Tech. Florida fell just short in the match play portion of the consolation finals falling 3-2.
Poulter continued to highlight Florida’s lineup. He finished the week undefeated in match play after a victory over the event’s individual champion with a 2 & 1 win. The freshman shined as he only lost a total of four holes in match play.
The Yellow Jackets earned two points, and the lead after Wilkes dropped his matchups 2 & 1 and 4 & 2.
Kress was in a competitive battle for the Gators Wednesday with Bartley Forrester. They remained tied for nine straight holes before Forrester took the lead on 14. Kress showed his competitiveness with back-to-back wins to go 1-up. However, Forrester capped his round off with a birdie on 18 to earn a tie.
Bell trailed by three strokes through 14 holes. However, the sophomore battled back with two victories on holes 15 and 16 to record a tie for the Gators.
Florida will begin the Spring portion of their season at Pablo Peek Collegiate against Jacksonville Jan. 22.
Contact Max at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.