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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Florida men’s golf finishes fourth at the Southern Highlands Collegiate

Junior Ian Gilligan earned his first win as a Gator

Florida redshirt freshman Matthew Kress swings his club during the Southeastern Conference Championships Thursday, April 20, 2023. / Photo by Leslie White
Florida redshirt freshman Matthew Kress swings his club during the Southeastern Conference Championships Thursday, April 20, 2023. / Photo by Leslie White


After two days of waiting, junior Ian Gilligan finally saw his opportunity to secure his first win as a Florida Gator. After ending rounds 1 and 2 behind Missouri senior Jack Lundin, Gilligan was ready to fight out the final round and secure first place.

Lundin struggled on hole 17 with a double-bogey, opening the door for Gilligan to take advantage. Gilligan delivered three straight birdies to propel himself into solo first place. He held on to win the Southern Highland Collegiate by just one stroke. 

The No. 16 Florida Gators had a strong team start to the tournament, ending round 1 in first place with a two-shot lead. The team shot an impressive 278 to end day one 10-under. This success came from a strong back nine, in which the Gators went 8-under with nine birdies and an eagle. 

The lineup for UF included Gilligan, senior Tyler Wilkes, sophomore Matthew Kress, redshirt freshman Luke Poulter and sophomore Parker Bell. Fifth-year John Dubois competed as an individual. 

Gilligan ended day one tied for second with a 67. He played a clean round 1 with six birdies and just one bogey on the day. He was 5-under par for the day.

Kress also found success in round 1, ending the day tied for seventh place. He finished 3-under with six birdies, including back-to-back birdies on holes 15 and 16. He also recorded three bogeys. 

Wilkes cracked the top-15 after day one, ending the day 2-under. He recorded both a birdie and an eagle on the back-nine. 

Florida had a less successful round 2, ending the day 3-over par and tied with Texas in third place. Thanks to its strong performance in round 1, the team was only four shots back from Oklahoma in first place. But, their lead had evaporated. 

Despite his team’s struggles, Gilligan continued his success in round 2. He was able to capture solo second place at 6-under with three birdies and an eagle on the day. However, he could not match his round 1 score and shot a 71 that included four bogeys. 

Kress and Wilkes could not match their round 1 performances, both ended the day tied for 26th. Kress recorded five bogeys on the day, with two coming back-to-back on holes 10 and 11. He also hit a double-bogey on hole four.

Wilkes had a clean front nine with just one bogey, but he failed to continue this play into the back nine and recorded four bogeys to just one birdie. 

The rest of the lineup for the Gators, Bell and Poulter, both struggled throughout the round. Bell recorded three bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine as well as three bogeys in a row on the back nine. He ended the round tied for 57th.

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Poulter also had a hard time finding his footing, with seven bogeys on the day. He also recorded two birdies to end the day tied for 46th. 

UF came out determined in round 3 to improve their play from the day before. The team shot a 289 on day three, a 12 point improvement from round 2. Across the lineup, there were two eagles and 13 birdies. Florida ultimately finished 4-over par and in fourth place out of 15 teams. 

Kress and Wilkes both ended the tournament in the top-35. They finished tied for 29th and tied for 34th, respectively. Bell and Poulter both finished 7-over par and tied for 46th. 

Gilligan was able to secure his victory in round 3. He recorded six birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey on his way to scoring a 70 for the day. He ended the tournament 8-under par and won by just one shot. 

Next, UF will continue its season on March 15 at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Georgia. 

Contact Hannah Getman at hgetman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannahgetman.

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