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Sunday February 10, 2008No. 12 Florida Men's Golf Wins Fifth Straight SunTrust Gator Invitational

Gainesville, FL

Behind a 2-under final-round score of 278, the 12th-ranked University of Florida men’s golf team completed a wire-to-wire finish and claimed its fifth straight SunTrust Gator Invitational victory on Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. The Gators completed the weekend with a 20-under 54-hole total of 820.

Florida State was the only other team in red figures with an 8-under 832 to take runner-up honors following a final-round 278 (-2). Mississippi State was third with a 2-over 842, UAB was fourth with a 4-over 844 and South Alabama was fifth with an 11-over 851.

Florida has captured 17 out of the past 20 Gator Invitationals and now owns 22 titles in the 31-year history of the event. Florida’s five straight home tournament victories represents the longest streak of consecutive Gator Invite wins since the Gators claimed nine straight from 1989-97. The win was also Florida’s first since claiming the 2007 Gator Invitational.

 

“It would be easy to say it is not a big deal to win the Gator (Invitational) again, but this is a young team that is learning how to win,” said UF head coach Buddy Alexander. “I think they did that pretty emphatically today, and I am excited and proud of them.”

The Gators’ total of 820 (-20) represented the third-lowest tournament score in school history and the lowest since the 2001 team posted a 30-under 810 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Sunday’s figure was a sharp contrast to the 10-over 850 that won the event a year ago. The 12-shot win was the largest margin of victory since the course underwent a major renovation in 2001.

Duke’s Michael Schachner and UAB’s Zach Sucher shared individual medalist honors with a 7-under 203. Schachner posted a final-round 67 and finished up on the ninth green while Sucher was still on the course. Sucher went to the 18th tee with a one- shot lead, but he took a bogey five on the final hole to finish at 7-under.

Upon the coaches, players and officials consent, both were crowned co-individual medalists, a first in the prestigious history of the tournament.

Florida took a 12-shot lead into the final day and maintained that advantage behind two under-par scorecards. Weather conditions were similar to Saturday’s first two rounds, but tougher pin positions put birdies at a premium.

 

Sophomore Tyson Alexander (Gainesville, Fla.) capped a career-best weekend with a final round 2-under 68 to take third place. His 54-hole total of 204 (-6) bested his previous career-low of 214 set at the 2007 Puerto Rico Classic. Alexander’s previous best finish was a tie for 12th at that event.

Alexander, who shot rounds of 66 and 70 on Saturday, played his first nine holes on Sunday at 2-under. He held the lead after rolling in birdies on 12 and 17 but finished with a double-bogey six on 18.

 

“He’s come a long way in the last eight months,” said Alexander of his son. “He’s a guy that I am pretty confident having in my lineup right now. Being just a sophomore, he should continue to get better. He’s become a pretty good putter and that is the main thing that has improved in his game. He should develop into a pretty good college player.”

Junior Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) earned his second top-five finish of the season with an even-par 70 on Sunday. Horschel finished at 5-under 205 after posting rounds of 67 and 68 on the first day. He played his final seven holes at 2-under with birdies on 12 and 16 to atone for consecutive bogeys to start the back nine.  

 

Freshman Bank Vongvanij (Bradenton, Fla.), playing as an individual, registered the first top-10 placing of his career. After firing rounds of 68 and 67 on Saturday, Vongvanij closed with a 3-over 73 to earn a share of ninth place. He finished with a 54-hole total of 208 (-2).

 

Senior Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) carded a 1-over 71 to finish in a tie for 12th place. Villegas’ cumulative score of 1-under 209 tied for his lowest of the season. Junior Will Strickler (Charlottesville, Va.) finished in a tie for 17th behind a 1-under 69. Strickler’s 54-hole even-par tally of 210 was the lowest of his career.

“Will Strickler is getting better, and I am excited to see him bounce back after his first round,” said Alexander.

 

Senior Tyler Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished in a tie for 19th place with a 3-over 73 that put him at 1-over 211 for the tournament. Junior Toby Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla.), UF’s No. 5 starter, claimed a share of 26th place after a two-day total of 214 (+4).

Florida hopes to continue its winning ways as the Gators return to action at the John Hayt Invitational, Feb. 17-19, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The tournament will be hosted by North Florida at the par-72 Sawgrass Country Club.

 

Final Team Scores

Place

School

Score

1.

Florida

269-273-278 = 820 (-20)

2.

Florida State

278-276-278 = 832 (-8)

3.

Mississippi State

288-275-279 = 842 (+2)

4.

UAB  

276-280-288 = 844 (+4)

5.

South Alabama  

283-282-286 = 851 (+11)

T6.

Duke  

289-281-283 = 853 (+13)

T6.

Wake Forest  

288-278-287 = 853 (+13)

T6.

LSU

283-279-291 = 853 (+13)

9.

Coastal Carolina

283-283-290 = 856 (+16)

10.

Georgia Southern

287-282-292 = 861 (+21)

11.

Ole Miss

280-281-301 = 862 (+22)

12.

North Florida

284-286-295 = 865 (+25)

13.

South Florida  

291-294-288 = 873 (+33)

14.

Georgia State  

290-290-308 = 888 (+48)

 

 

Final Individual Top 10

Place

Player (School)

Score

T1.

Michael Schachner (Duke)

68-68-67 = 203 (-7)

T1.

Zach Sucher (UAB)

68-67-68 = 203 (-7)

3.

Tyson Alexander (Florida)

66-70-68 = 204 (-6)

T4.

Billy Horschel (Florida)

67-68-70 = 205 (-5)

T4.

Andrew Loupe (LSU)

68-65-72 = 205 (-5)

T6.

Jonas Blixt (Florida State)

67-67-73 = 207 (-4)

T6.

Marc-Ettienne Bussieres (S. Ala.)

68-72-67 = 207 (-3)

T6.

Seath Lauer (Florida State)

72-68-67 = 207 (-3)

T9.

Bank Vongvanij (Florida)

68-67-73 = 208 (-2)

T9.

Drew Kittleson (Florida State)

72-68-68 = 208 (-2)

 

Final Florida Results

Place

Player

Score

3.

Tyson Alexander  

66-70-68 = 204 (-6)

T4.

Billy Horschel  

67-68-70 = 205 (-5)

T9.

Bank Vongvanij (Individual)

68-67-73 = 208 (-2)

T12.

Manuel Villegas  

67-71-71 = 209 (-1)

T17.

Will Strickler  

73-68-69 = 210 (E)

T19.

Tyler Brown (Individual)

68-70-73 = 211 (+1)

T26.

Toby Ragland

69-67-78 = 214 (+4)

T28.

Tim McKenney (Individual)

67-72-76 = 215 (+5)

 

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