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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Florida Men’s Golf wins Gators Invitational for fifth-consecutive year

The Gators beat out fourteen other schools in stroke play to defend their home course tournament

Florida redshirt freshman Miguel Leal swings his club in the VyStar Credit Union Gators Invitational Saturday, February 11, 2023. / Photo by Lorenzo Vasquez
Florida redshirt freshman Miguel Leal swings his club in the VyStar Credit Union Gators Invitational Saturday, February 11, 2023. / Photo by Lorenzo Vasquez

A program-record-tying round of 62 (-8) led by freshman Ian Giligan, allowed the University of Florida’s men’s golf team to blow out their competition to win the Gators Invitational at Mark Bostick Golf Course for the fifth straight year. With a score of 814 (-26), the Gators were twice as far under par as the University of North Florida team  [827 (-13)] who placed second. 

UF’s starters consisted of senior Tyler Wilkes (1), freshman Ian Gilligan (2), senior Quentin Debove (3), sophomore Matthew Kress (4) and redshirt junior Joe Pagdin (5). 

Round 1 of play was solid for the Gators. Kress’ performance was a highlight for Florida with 4 birdies and a bogey, leaving him 3-under par at the close of round 1. As a collective the team ended round 1 at 276 (-4). 

The Gators’ long game was the strongest portion of their game, with most players reaching the green in 2 strokes on nearly every hole. 

The Gators heated up for a stellar performance in round 2. Led by Gilligan’s program-record-tying round of 62 (-8), the team finished with a score of 262 (-18) in round 2 and 538 (-22) total. 

Gilligan made 8 birdies, 4 in a row to open the front 9, in his round. Pagdin’s 65 (-5) was another major contributor to the fantastic round. Seven birdies—including back-to-back birdies on holes 3 and 4—and 2 bogeys combined for Pagdin’s score. Kress closed out round 2 at -3 again with 3 straight birdies on holes 10,11, and 12. 

Going into round 3, the Gators were at the top of both the team and individual leaderboards. Gilligan led the individual with a 131 (-9). Putting was the biggest struggle for the Gators, as their short and long games were clinically accurate. Florida concluded the third round with another 276 (-4) for a final total of 814 (-26). Debove’s back-to-back birdies on holes 2 and 3 highlighted  the final round where he ended with a 67 (-3).

Florida also compared a second team, which does not count in team scoring as a separate school, but as individuals. This Florida (B) team consisted of sophomore Parker Bell (1), redshirt freshman Luke Poulter (2),  freshman Jack Turner (3), fifth-year John DuBois (4)and junior Ryan Hart. 

Bell and Hart each recorded 65s (-5) in round 1 and round 2 respectively. Hart tallied 4 birdies and an eagle on hole 12 with a bogey on hole 11 to end the second round 5-under. 

The University of North Florida walked away with first and second place in individual play with Nick Gabrelcik shooting a 197 (-13) and Andrew Riley shooting a 198 (-12). Gillian locked up third for the Gators with a 200 (-10). 

Three Florida players— Parker Bell, Joe Pagdin and Jack Turner—tied for sixth, each shooting 205 (-5). Hart landed in tenth with a 206 (-4). Kress and Poulter’s 208s (-2)  tied for eleventh.  

Two  members of UF’s men’s golf team competed both days as individuals, sophomore Miguel Leal and redshirt freshman Toby Bishop. Leal tied for 52nd with a score of 219 (+9) and Bishop tied for 57th with a score of 220 (+10). 

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Both Florida teams topped the leaderboard from the first round. It was clear the Gators were ready to defend their home course.

UF’s men’s golf team will next compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in a 3 day tournament on Feb. 25-27.

Contact Emma DiNicola at Follow her on Twitter @emdinicolaUF

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