Andy Zhang

Sophomore Andy Zhang claimed victory at the NCAA Kissimmee Regional, leading the team with a 13-under-par effort in its record-breaking performance at the Watson at Reunion Resort on Wednesday.

 

History was set on the final day of the NCAA Kissimmee Regional.

Sophomore Andy Zhang and freshman Chris Nido carded career-best scores to finish first and second in the tournament, respectively. Every Gator finished below par. UF was also the only team in the field to have all five of its golfers finish at 2 under or below.

But that wasn’t historic. That’s commonplace for the team that wins the tournament. The real history came with the score.

The Florida men’s golf team won the regional by 12 strokes over second-place UCF, finishing the tournament at 42 under par. That score is the lowest in program history, beating the previous record of 37 under set in 2006.

“We designed everything this year to make sure we were ready for this tournament,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “Forty-two under par, a University of Florida all-time scoring record, that is pretty special and especially to do it when you need it the most.”

Florida definitely needed it and got it at the best possible time. With the NCAA Championships coming up on May 25, having two of its golfers put up 13-under and 12-under scores gives the Gators momentum heading into the biggest tournament of the year.

Zhang was in a tie for first at the start of Day 3. His back-to-back birdies on the first two holes helped distance himself from the pack early.

For the round, Zhang tallied six birdies and one bogey to win his second consecutive tournament, as he won the SEC Championship on April 28. His score of 13 under was tied for the fourth lowest three-day total in program history.

Nido’s day was flawless. The freshman carded nine birdies, including seven on the back nine, and didn’t register a single bogey. His round score of 9 under was the lowest recorded by a freshman in UF program history. He recorded four consecutive birdies at the end to help secure sole possession of second place, as he beat the third-place golfers by two strokes.

Freshman John Axelsen wasn’t too far behind his teammates. After recording a bogey on the fourth hole, Axelsen finished the day with three birdies, setting his score at 9 under, good for a tie for sixth place.

Junior Gordon Neale and senior Alejandro Tosti rounded out Florida’s lineup with 2-under performances. Neale had four birdies and four bogeys, including back-to-back birdies on two of his last three holes.

Tosti’s day was almost the same. The senior had five birdies and four bogeys on the round, pushing him to 2 under and putting him and Neale in a tie for 26th.

The Gators now turn their attention to the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma, starting on May 25th. The top-five teams from each regional qualified for the tournament.

“Our team showed today exactly what they are made out of,” Deacon said. “We have a week to go before the National Championship and we’re going to use that time to get a little sharper and more prepared. We’ll give it our all in Stillwater.”

You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him [email protected].