The Florida Gators men’s golf team is heading into the final stretch of their season.
The Gators are currently ranked 24th in the nation and are coming off a sixth place finish at the Gary Koch Invitational in Tampa.
Florida started play in the Fall, participating in four events. They struggled a bit as a team with two seventh place finishes and a tenth place finish, but won The Bake at the Ocean Course tournament in mid-October.
The early struggles can partly be attributed to the loss of seniors Bank Vongvanij and Andres Echavarria, who were each individual medalists at several tournaments last season. The two helped the team win Florida’s first SEC Championship since 2003, and advance to the NCAA Championships for the 11th consecutive year.
The Gators really turned it on this Spring winning two of their first three tournaments, but hit a rough patch in mid-March finishing ninth at the Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. However, they bounced back with a third place finish at their following tournament, the Chris Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Georgia, before finishing sixth at the Koch.
Florida assistant coach John Hadrigan says the success is partly due to new players stepping up and performing well.
Junior transfer T.J. Vogel is currently the sixth ranked collegiate golfer in the nation, averaging 71 shots per round. He has two tournament wins this season to go along with a number of top five and top ten finishes. Junior Tyler McCumber also has two top five finishes and he and freshman J.D. Tomlinson have finished in the top ten several times.
Some of the Gators’ success can be attributed to Hadrigan, and head coach Buddy Alexander, who stress hard work and are very demanding of their players so they play to the best of their abilities.
Freshman J.D. Tomlinson says the coaches have taught him a lot, including advice beyond the golf course.
Tomlinson adds much more work goes into preparing for a golf season than most people think.
The Gators will be in action again this weekend when they head to the SEC Championship at the Seaside Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Georgia, where there will attempt to defend last year’s conference title. Then, they are off the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships in May.