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. 

If the Gators men’s golf team’s performance on Monday at the NCAA Kissimmee Regional was any indication, then Florida plays better on the back nine then it does on the front.

On Day 1, the Gators carded 11 birdies on the final nine holes compared to seven on the first nine. It helped them jump out to a tie for first place with a 12-under score.

Day 2 was more of the same.

Sophomore Andy Zhang captured a share of the lead with a nearly flawless outing, and freshman John Axelsen moved a stroke behind him. Both Gators propelled Florida to sole possession of first place by five shots (25 under) on Day 2 of the NCAA Regional.

“It was another outstanding day for our team,” coach J.C. Deacon said in a release. “We are seeing what we look like when all five guys are going.

Zhang, the SEC individual champion, finished the round at 8 under with five birdies and a bogey.

Axelsen, who currently resides at 7 under, split the front nine with two bogies and two birdies. His back nine, though, saw four birdies throughout, placing the freshman in a tie for fourth.

Florida’s three other golfers didn’t find the same consistency.

Freshman Chris Nido’s six birdies were met with four bogies, bringing his score to 3 under, good for a share of 15th.

Junior Gordon Neale’s day was full of ups and downs. He consistently struggled on the first nine holes, tallying two birdies, three bogies and a double bogey. His final nine holes weren’t much better -- two birdies and two bogeys -- but did feature the highlight of his day. On a par-5 14th hole, Neale shot an eagle, limiting the damage and setting his score at 2 under, good for a tie for 18th.

Senior Alejandro Tosti rebounded for a rough Day 1 with six birdies on the round with just one bogey. However, a double bogey on the 15th hole set him back a bit, placing him in a tie for 23rd at 1 under.

Day 3 begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The Gators will attempt to hold on to a five-stroke lead and Zhang will look to capture his second consecutive title.

“Although we have played two great rounds, we have some unfinished business to take care of,” Deacon said. “I expect to see our most focused and committed golf in tomorrow's final round. We've waited a whole year for this opportunity.”


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