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Junior Manuel Villegas won his first career individual medal on Sunday.

Sunday February 11, 2007Villegas Wins Individual Medal, Men's Golf Takes First At Gator Invitational

Gainesville, FL

Junior Manuel Villegas won his first career individual medal on Sunday.

Junior Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) won his first career individual medal with a six-under score of 204, leading the No. 1 University of Florida men’s golf team to its’ second victory of the season at the SunTrust Gator Invitational. UF finished the event with a total of 850 (+10) to finish 11 strokes ahead of second-place Florida State and win its own tournament for the fourth-consecutive year. The Gators have also captured the title at the Gator Invitational in six of the last eight seasons and the 21st time in the 30-year history of the event.

 

“Winning never gets old, especially when you’re playing at home,” Florida head coach Buddy Alexander said. “We had to play a good round with the tournament on the line, and I’m proud of what our guys did. It was workman-like, but we did what we had to do to pull it out.”

 

Villegas, whose previous career-best finish was a second-place showing at this year’s Inverness Invitational, fired a final-round 69 to take the wire-to-wire win and become the first UF player to collect the tournament’s individual medal since Camilo Benedetti in 2001. He began the day with a two-stroke lead, and birdied two of his first five holes to open the third round. His score of 69 on Sunday put him at one-under for the round, making the Gator Invitational his first career tournament in red numbers for all three rounds.

 

“Manny is the guy who taken this team to the level where it can be competitive,” Alexander said. “There’s no doubt he’s put in the work to improve his game. He told me yesterday that he was a little nervous, but he got off to a good start and that made him comfortable out there.”

 

Sophomore Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) saved his best round of the weekend for Sunday, registering a final-round 68 (-2) to tie for seventh with a total of 213 (+3). After starting the day tied for 29th, he jumped 22 spots on Sunday to earn his ninth-consecutive top-10 finish in collegiate stroke competition. He birdied six holes on the day, including the first two of the back nine, and finished the tournament tied for second in the field with 11 birdies over three days.

 

Freshman Tyson Alexander (Gainesville, Fla.) earned his first career top-15 finish with a three-round total of 215 (+5) that put him in a tie for 15th. He played the back nine at one-under on Sunday to wrap up the Gator Invitational with a 72 (+2) that propelled him to a career-best tournament score. Freshman Andres Echavarria (Medellin, Colombia) finished the weekend in a tie for 41st with a score of 221 (+11), and sophomore Toby Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla.) tied for 49th with a 13-over 223.

 

Two UF players, junior Tyler Brown (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Will Strickler (Charlottesville, Va.), produced top-10 finishes as individuals at the Gator Invitational. The pair both shot a two-over 212 for the weekend to finish in a three-way tie for fourth. Freshman Tim McKenney (Scottsdale, Ariz.), also playing as an individual, earned his first career top-20 with a final-round 73 (+3) and a total of 216 (+6) to tie for 20th.

 

Top-ranked Florida will be in action again from Feb. 25-27, when they travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Rio Mar Resort for the Puerto Rico Classic. The Gators finished second at the 2006 edition of the tournament with a 17-under total of 847. Live scoring can be found via www.gatorzone.com.

 

Final Team Scores

Place

School

Score

1.

FLORIDA

280-289-281 = 850 (+10)

2.

Florida State

284-287-290 = 861 (+21)

3.

Wake Forest

280-288-294 = 862 (+22)

4.

Coastal Carolina

290-284-290 = 864 (+24)

5.

Georgia Southern

287-284-295 = 866 (+26)

6.

Tulsa

290-290-287 = 867 (+27)

7.

UAB

287-289-293 = 869 (+29)

8.

Georgia State

292-286-293 = 871 (+31)

9.

North Florida

293-292-287 = 872 (+32)

10.

Kentucky

295-293-293 = 881 (+41)

11.

Ohio State

283-300-299 = 882 (+42)

12.

LSU

296-295-293 = 884 (+44)

13.

UCF

297-297-293 = 887 (+47)

14.

Purdue

299-303-304 = 906 (+66)

 

Individual Top 10

Place

Player (School)

Score

1.

MANUEL VILLEGAS (FLORIDA)

67-68-69 = 204 (-6)

2.

Bryan Jones (Georgia Southern)

71-68-71 = 210 (E)

3.

Webb Simpson (Wake Forest)

70-70-71 = 211 (+1)

T4.

TYLER BROWN (FLORIDA - I)

69-71-72 = 212 (+2)

T4.

Matt Savage (Florida State)

72-75-65 = 212 (+2)

T4.

WILL STRICKLER (FLORIDA - I)

68-72-72 = 212 (+2)

T7.

Jonas Blixt (Florida State)

70-67-76 = 213 (+3)

T7.

Zach Byrd (Coastal Carolina)

71-67-75 = 213 (+3)

T7.

BILLY HORSCHEL (FLORIDA)

71-74-68 = 213 (+3)

T7.

Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina)

70-74-69 = 213 (+3)

T7.

Michael O’Neal (North Florida)

69-71-73 = 213 (+3)

 

Florida Results

Place

Player (School)

Score

1.

Manuel Villegas

67-68-69 = 204 (-6)

T4.

Tyler Brown (I)

69-71-72 = 212 (+2)

T4.

Will Strickler (I)

68-72-72 = 212 (+2)

T7.

Billy Horschel

71-74-68 = 213 (+3)

T15.

Tyson Alexander

71-72-72 = 215 (+5)

T20.

Tim McKenney (I)

72-71-73 = 216 (+6)

T41.

Andres Echavarria

71-75-75 = 221 (+11)

T49.

Toby Ragland

75-76-72 = 223 (+13)

 

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