The Florida men’s golf team finished third in the team stroke play portion of the SEC Championship, and they now advance to the match play segment. This is the second straight season the Gators have placed third in the stroke play format.
Saturday at 8:20 p.m., the Gators face number six Ole Miss in the quarterfinals. The victor will face the winner of number two Texas A&M/number seven Missouri in the semifinals that afternoon.
West coast duo
Florida golfers Ricky Castillo and Matthew Kress, both hailing from California, had a strong opener at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Both Castillo and Kress struggled in round one, but they stayed determined and ultimately led the squad the second two rounds.
After a 73 (+3) from Castillo in round one, he was able to turn things around very quickly. He shot 66 (-4) in round two and 68 (-2) in round three, and his round two score was the lowest of any Gator in all three rounds.
Similarly, Kress shot a 74 (+4) in round one, but then followed up with a 67 (-2) and 69 (-1) in the following rounds, respectively. Kress’ final score of 210 tied his best tournament-best score, and his 67 was a career-low round.
Ultimately, what led Florida to the high finish was consistency. John DuBois, last year’s SEC champion, shot a 209 (-1), Fred Biondi shot a 211 (+1) and Yuxin Lin shot a 215 (+5). Also, Biondi was -3 heading into his final round, but shot a 74 to finish +1.
- T8 Ricky Castillo — 73, 66, 68
- T16 John DuBois — 69, 70, 70
- T19 Matthew Kress — 74, 67, 69
- T28 Fred Biondi — 67, 70, 74
- T47 Yuxin Lin — 68, 72, 75
No Gators blew up and held the team back, which is a huge component of being successful in big-time tournaments.
Stroke play standings
- Tennessee: 826 (-14)
- Texas A&M: 827 (-13)
- Florida: 831 (-9)
- Vanderbilt/Alabama: 832 (-8)
6. Ole Miss: 839 (-1)
7. Missouri: 840 (E)
8. Mississippi State: 841 (+1)
Heading to quarterfinals
Florida is a veteran team with a lot of firepower. Interestingly, four of the five Gators in Saturday’s lineup appeared in the match play last year. Florida coach J.C. Deacon has been at the squad’s helm for nearly a decade, but is still hunting for his first SEC Championship while in charge.
Saturday’s play begins at 8:20 a.m., and match play finals are targeted at 8 a.m. Sunday.