For a school with such national sports recognition, the Florida woman’s golf team is doing a good job of staying under the radar despite their success. They are set to begin the three-day SEC tournament on Friday in Birmingham, Ala., and they might be the hottest team heading into the tourney.
The No. 8 Gators are entering the tournament after winning the Clemson Invitational on April 3, their fourth straight victory and sixth in last seven. They have the most titles in a season since 1986, the last year they won the NCAA Championship.
— Gators Golf (@GatorsGolf) April 14, 2016
The Orange and Blue need all the momentum considering the tough competition in the SEC. Even with their lofty ranking, the Gators are third-best in the conference, behind No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia. Florida has not played in the same tournament as Alabama this season, but they did meet the Bulldogs in the Windy City Collegiate in Chicago in early October. Georgia won first overall while the Gators finished a season-worst eighth.
But the Gators are hoping their strong spring play is good enough to leave behind their fall struggles. Head Coach Emily Glaser is banking on that recent success to help in the SEC tournament. Or at the very least, finish stronger than they did last year. Florida placed sixth in last year’s SEC tournament finishing +22 (886). Texas A&M won the tournament. Glaser says her team is in the right mindset for the tournament, but to finish stronger, they’re going to rely on certain individuals to carry the team.
Karolina Vlckova might be the strongest member of the team. The junior had six top-10 finishes this season and her scoring average to par is 72.45. She also placed fifth individually (-4) in the Clemson Invitational. Vlckova also was the lone Gator to qualify for the NCAA Championship last year, garnering an honorable mention. Vlckova is crucial to making sure she can pick her team up, which is an important quality Glaser says her team needs.
While the team will be counting on Vlckova, there is pressure on freshman Sam Wagner to play well. Wagner is tied for second on the team with three top-10 finishes this season, and actually bested teammate Vlckova at the Clemson Invitational, finishing -5, good for fourth overall. The performance was good enough for her second SEC Freshman of the Week award.
A good performance in the SEC tournament nets the Gators a shot at the NCAA Regionals, May 5-7. The NCAA Championships are May 20-25.