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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

All-around strong play earns Florida men’s golf a win at Calusa Cup

All six Gators finished in the top-20 on the way to their sixth win of the season

Florida redshirt freshman Matthew Kress putts the ball in the VyStar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Florida redshirt freshman Matthew Kress putts the ball in the VyStar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

As he entered the final round, freshman Jack Turner was on his way to securing the individual victory. He came into the day tied for first, with a strong chance of getting his first collegiate win. After two strong rounds of 69 and 70, he hoped to continue this play to secure the win.

He opened the round on-par, but an early bogey put him behind. He came back with a birdie but followed up with back-to-back bogeys. Turner started the front nine with another bogey, dropping him back to third place. 

Birdies on holes 14 and 15 put him back into second but it wasn’t enough for Turner to capture his first win. Wake Forest junior Scotty Kennon and Georgia graduate student Ben Van Wyk both shot final rounds of 70 to finish first and second. Turner would ultimately finish third. 

To start this week, Florida men’s golf headed to Naples, Florida, for its final regular season tournament, the Calusa Cup. The Gators faced a field of eight teams, including No. 15 Georgia Tech and No. 23 Georgia. 

They looked to capture their sixth win of the season and back-to-back six-win seasons for the first time since the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. 

UF came out hot to open the tournament. In Round 1, the lineup recorded 19 birdies on the way to a 283 and 5-under par finish. The Gators were one of two teams to finish under par in the first 18 holes and ended the day with a four-shot lead.

Turner, as well as senior Tyler Wilkes, both had strong opening rounds of 69. Turner recorded five birdies and his first collegiate eagle to match two bogeys and a double bogey. Wilkes recorded four birdies to just one bogey. They both ended the round tied for second. 

The rest of the lineup also finished the round in the top-20. Sophomore Matthew Kress started slow with a double bogey on hole four but came back with two birdies to end his front nine. He went even on the back nine with a birdie and a bogey to end tied for eleventh. 

Junior Ian Gilligan had a rough start with two bogeys on the front nine. He turned it around on the back nine, starting with a birdie. He recorded two more bogeys and two more birdies on his way to a T15 opening round. 

Parker Bell, a sophomore, shot an opening round of 74 to put himself tied for 20th after Day 1.

Round two was more of the same for Florida. Sixteen birdies and an eagle from the lineup helped the Gators extend their lead to 11 shots at the end of the round. They shot a 2-under round of 286. 

Turner kept his momentum from Round 1, starting this round with an early birdie. He struggled with back-to-back bogeys but recorded another birdie before the end of the front nine. On the back nine, the freshman sank two more birdie putts on his way to another round under par. He ended the day tied for first. 

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Bell shot up the leaderboard on Day 2 with five birdies and an eagle. He was 4-under on the front nine and carded the lowest round of the tournament at 68. This secured him fifth place to end the round.

Wilkes, Kress and Gilligan all played consistently in the second round, all finishing in the top-25. Wilkes ended tied for sixth at 1-under, recording three birdies throughout the round. Kress finished tied for 12th with Gilligan bringing up the rear tied for 25th.

The first two rounds carried the Gators to the win, despite some struggles in the third round. They shot a 4-over, 292 with 24 bogeys and four double bogeys. The lead diminished to just four shots at one point, with the final lead being six shots.

Turner lost his lead during the round and ended the tournament in third place. He shot a final round of 1-over, 73. The freshman ended the tournament 4-under and two shots out of first. 

Kress recorded six birdies to five bogeys throughout the final round for his tournament-best round of 71. He moved himself up the leaderboard to finish eighth. 

Bell struggled throughout the final round with nine bogeys and two double bogeys. He battled with an early birdie on hole two, another birdie on hole 12 and an eagle on his final hole but it wasn’t enough to stay in the top 10. He finished tied for 20th. 

The rest of the lineup also finished in the top 20 for UF. Wilkes ended tied for 12th with a rough final round that included two double bogeys and three bogeys. Gilligan finished tied for 16th with a final low round of 71.

Redshirt freshman Luke Poulter competed in the tournament as an individual. Poulter recorded an eagle and nine birdies on his way to a T16 finish.

Florida will begin postseason play starting with the SEC Championship from April 24-28. It will look to capture back-to-back national championships. 

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

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