Sierra Brooks

Sierra Brooks was Florida’s highest finisher at the NCAA Championships since 1986, placing second.

 

Play was suspended due to darkness at 8:30 p.m at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Monday.

When teams resumed play in the morning, the Gators women’s golf team was not among them.

UF had been eliminated from the tournament, finishing in 11th place and missing match play by just four strokes. The team exited the tournament 11 places higher than it did last year. Despite the season’s end, Florida has quite a few reasons to be excited about its future, starting with two of its centerpieces.

The first is junior Sierra Brooks, who made her mark on UF history Monday. Brooks shot 215 (4 under) throughout the tournament, which was good for second place individually. Her placing is the highest for a UF women’s golfer in NCAAs since Page Dunlap won the individual title in 1986.

“I’m incredibly proud of Sierra,” coach Emily Glaser said in a release. “She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to being the best athlete she can be.”

Brooks, who is preparing to compete as an amateur at the Women’s U.S Open next week, would certainly be an anchor for the Gators next year if she decides to return. She particularly impressed at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, where she finished in a tie for 10th.

“Yeah, I was really pleased with all three rounds, especially on this golf course,” Brooks said of her performance on Monday in a release. “It took all the shots and it was a great test of golf.”

Another golfer who could make an impact on the Gators’ future is junior Marta Perez. Perez played with Brooks at the national in Augusta, where she finished tied for 21st. Perez was also among three UF golfers to find their way to the Arnold Palmer Cup watchlist, where she ranked 19th.

A large part of success comes from momentum, and the main thing the Gators can look forward to is the return of their roster. UF is expected to retain every member of the team heading into next year, and with a higher finish in this year’s NCAAs, Florida will hope to capitalize on the upward trend when next year comes around.

“(UF) played some great golf and had a tremendous amount of growth both on and off the golf course,” Glaser said. “Everyone from this team will return next year and I know they will be able to use the experiences of this week as fuel for next season.”

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].

River Wells is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida women’s tennis team. He has previously covered UF swimming and diving. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.