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Friday, June 14, 2024

Florida men’s golf to begin postseason on May 13

The Gators seek to become the first back-to-back national champions since Alabama in 2013-14

Florida men's golf head coach JC Deacon and redshirt freshman Matthew Kress embrace after the Gators' victory over the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies in the SEC Championship Semifinals Saturday, April 22, 2023. / Photo by Leslie White
Florida men's golf head coach JC Deacon and redshirt freshman Matthew Kress embrace after the Gators' victory over the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies in the SEC Championship Semifinals Saturday, April 22, 2023. / Photo by Leslie White

After an appearance in the match play quarterfinals of the SEC championships, the No. 14 Florida men’s golf team will fight to defend its 2023 title in postseason competition at the three-round West Lafayette NCAA regional from May 13-15.

Led by head coach J.C. Deacon, the Gators will be making their ninth-straight appearance in an NCAA regional and will look to make their fourth-straight appearance in the national championships. 

In their 2023 championship winning season, the Gators won four regular season tournaments. This season, Florida claimed five tournament wins with first place finishes in the Georgetown Intercollegiate Tournament, Sea Best Invitational, Gators Invitational, Calusa Cup and Schenkel Invitational. 

Florida’s best regular-season performance came in the Schenkel Invitational when it achieved a season-low score of 27-under. Four of five golfers completed the tournament under par, and sophomore Parker Bell was runner-up with a 10-under 206 finish.

While the Gators excelled in tournament play, they went 1-4 in match-play. Top-ranked teams such as No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Florida State and No. 10 Alabama bested Florida in head-to-head matchups. 

In the first three rounds of the SEC championships, Florida placed sixth to qualify for the match-play quarterfinals. After taking Vanderbilt to extra holes, Florida lost 3-2 and failed to defend its 2023 SEC championship.

Junior Ian Gilligan, who earned All-SEC Second Team honors, leads the Gators in nearly every statistic. He maintains team-lows of 62, 131 and 200 strokes on 18, 36 and 54 hole courses, respectively. Gilligan also has a team-best eight top-10 finishes with a first place finish (8-under 208) at the Southern Highlands Collegiate. 

All-SEC freshman Jack Turner played a key role for the Gators this season. Turner holds a team-low stroke average of 70.5 alongside seven top-10 finishes. He earned third place  at the Calusa Cup with a 4-under 212 finish. 

Florida is a No. 3-seed in the West Lafayette Regional. Vanderbilt, which has outlasted the Gators twice in SEC play, sits atop the region as the No. 1-seed. 

The Gators will compete in the NCAA regional from May 13-15 in the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex. Tee time for round one is set for 8 a.m. The starting lineup for the Gators will include sophomore Matthew Kress, fifth-year John DuBois, Gilligan, Turner and Bell.

UF will need to place within the top five over three 18-hole rounds to qualify for the NCAA Championships. 

Contact Aiden Wacksman at aidenwacksman@go.sfcollege.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @aidenwacksman.

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