A warm early March day, an easy breeze and a breakthrough in the final round was all that the eighth ranked Florida women’s golf team needed to edge out the 13-team field at home for a fourth consecutive year.
But the entire weekend at Mark Bostick Golf Course was no easy ride. No. 24 Miami grew hot and gave Florida plenty of trouble in the first two rounds.
Ultimately, Florida proved its resilience. It weathered the storm with a two-under finish, breaking its own record for the lowest team score in tournament history with 838.
How Florida pulled it together
Midway through the first round, Miami built a sizable lead of nine-under and appeared to be running away with the tournament. But bogey trouble in the second round diminished its cushion and Miami fell to a three-under finish.
Florida inched in carefully, capturing solo second place by consistent play from sophomore Addie Baggarly. Baggarly would close out the first 36 holes tied for second at two-under, with credit to seven birdies and a bogey-free day. Help came in the form of junior Sierra Brooks, who carded a bogey-free second round with a 68.
Despite entering the final round three strokes behind, the deficit failed to shake up Florida’s mentality.
“We stayed pretty calm and patient,” head coach Emily Glaser said. “We knew if we could get it within a few, anything could happen.”
The result was a disastrous final round for Miami and plenty of opportunity for Florida.
Miami, who had once sat 12 strokes ahead of Florida in the first round, faltered greatly in the third round. The recipe? A triple bogey, three double bogeys and 12 bogeys.
Securing the “Bagg”
Florida entered attack mode on the back nine, and it paid off.
All eyes fell on Baggarly’s group in the final stretch. The sophomore was well aware of it, thanks to a pep talk on the 15th hole from associate coach Janice Olivencia.
“She told me that my self-talk needed to be better than its ever been,” Baggarly said. “She straight up told me it’s gonna come down to these last couple (holes).”
Putting troubles had plagued Baggarly throughout the day. Even so, consistent iron play kept her in the mix. A lackluster putting performance was turned around entirely when she closed out the last three holes with three straight birdies. She led the team on the individual leader board, tying for second with a three-under finish.
Florida kept its Florida Gators Invitational title well protected, and the title remained at home for the fourth consecutive year.
But this is only the beginning.
“We really needed a win early in the spring in order to give us that momentum we need throughout the SEC Championship and postseason,” Baggarly said.
And Glaser is ready to lead them in that direction.
“We’ve got more to play for this year,” Glaser said. “They’re hungry.”
Florida women’s golf will travel to Auburn, Alabama from March 23-25 to compete in the Evans Derby Experience.