Andy Zhang

Sophomore Andy Zhang is tied for first heading into the final day of the NCAA Kissimmee Regional. He's at 8 under with freshman John Axelsen just behind him at 7 under. 

From start to finish, the Mason Rudolph Championship did not go the way the No. 11 Florida men’s golf team wanted it to.

A disappointing 11 over on the event’s first day left the Gators in a tie for fourth place. With Saturday’s play canceled due to rain, Florida only had 18 holes on Sunday to make up ground.

Instead, the Gators slogged through another tough day of golf in difficult conditions in Franklin, Tennessee. With temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s for most of the day, Florida shot 4 over and ended the day right where they began: in fourth place.

In the event as a whole, Florida shot 15 over.

Needless to say, coach J.C. Deacon, who said his team’s “best golf was yet to come” leading up to this event, was unhappy with the way Florida performed at the end of its round.

“We crushed it for 15 holes, the last three cost us a great day,” Deacon said in a release. “Championship teams find a way to finish and get great rounds into scoring tent, we couldn't do it today."

To compound Florida’s problems, this event was won by SEC rivals Vanderbilt, who finished at 1 over. The No. 3 Commodores have now won all three events in which both they and Florida have competed in during the spring season. With the SEC Championships coming up in just over a week, Vanderbilt holds the clear advantage over a slumping Florida team.

For the weekend, Florida was led by sophomore Andy Zhang. He shot 1 over, good for sixth place on the individual leaderboard. He was followed by junior Gordon Neale in a tie for 12th place (+5) and freshman John Axelsen in a tie for 15th place (+6).

After a rough first day, senior Alejandro Tosti bounced back on Sunday, shooting an even par and ending the event in a tie for 29th. Freshman Chris Nido fared oppositely, with a disastrous 81 on the final day leaving him in a tie for 41st. Nido’s score on Sunday was by far the worst round by a Florida player this weekend, and hampered the team’s quest to climb up the standings.

With the SEC Championships right around the corner, the Gators are now done with regular season play. The SEC Championships begin on April 25 in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

“We can win that golf tournament,” Deacon said. “We will use this time to figure out our lineup and get everyone playing their best. That process starts (Monday) morning.”

You can follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano or contact him at [email protected]