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Florida Men’s Golf Approaches Spring Seeking Consistency

Tomlinson and Tarnstrom Assess 2013-2014 Season
The Florida men’s golf team began the 2013-2014 season with hopes of a second Southeastern Conference title in four years. But, at the of the fall campaign, the only thing the Gators are concerned with is improving from top to bottom.

Florida’s ranking dropped out of the top 25 after The Invitational at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, SC, the final tournament of autumn. None of the members of the team finished the tournament under par at the event. Consistency was lacking throughout the year, and the poor play put a damper on the fall calendar.

“I think we played pretty poor, to be honest,” said J.D. Tomlinson, a junior from Gainesville who saw action in every tournament this season. “The positive is that we can’t get any worse. Our spring should be a lot better than our fall.”

Tomlinson putts at the Shoal Creek Invitational in Birmingham.

The Gators finished third at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate hosted by Alabama-Birmingham in the last week of September, but failed to finish higher than seventh in any other fall event.

Half of the Florida roster is underclassmen, and two freshmen, Victor Tarnstrom and Ryan Orr, saw significant time on the course. With three months separating the team from the spring season in February , the focus now shifts from team performance to individual improvement. For golfers acclimating to college competition from the amateurs, the winter break is the ideal time to advance their game.

“That first year, you come in and [head coach] Buddy [Alexander] doesn’t work a lot with you in the fall. Then he takes this time right here to really refine what you have, talk to you about your game and tell you how to make it better,” said Tomlinson. “You should see a big improvement in Victor and Ryan’s game in the spring.”

For Tarnstrom, the transition to the college game comes with the added challenge of growing accustomed to life in the United States. Hailing from Nykvarn, Sweden, Tarnstrom admits that the move has not been easy.

Tarnstrom lines up a put on the green at Shoal Creek Country Club.

“I just didn’t play good. I hit the ball pretty bad, and we all did overall as a team,” said Tarnstrom. “This semester, coming to a new country, it’s very hard to get things perfect.”

Alongside Orr, Tarnstrom is confident both he and the entire UF team can straighten out their form during the break and come back stronger in the spring.

“I have some technique things I am working on that I haven’t been doing well during the season. I just need to hit balls straight,” said Tarnstrom.

The spring season begins with the Sea Best Invitational in Ponte Vedra, FL, during the first week of February and six more events leading up to the SEC Championship in April in St. Simons Island, GA. A strong showing in conference play could lead to a berth in the NCAAs at the end of the season.

“I would like to make match play at the NCAA Tournament,” said Tomlinson. “That’s something we’ve never done since I’ve been here, and we felt like we should have the last two years. We came close my freshman year and didn’t play well last year, but as a team, I want to make match play.”

With three moths remaining in the season and a long winter break just beginning, postseason play may be far away, but the long road toward improvement for Florida golf begins immediately.

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