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Saturday March 15, 2008Villegas, Horschel Tied For Lead As No. 10/12 Men's Golf Makes Move At Schenkel Invitational

STATESBORO, Ga.

Senior Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) and junior Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) sit in a six-way tie atop the leaderboard as the No. 10/12 University of Florida men’s golf team surged three spots to third place at the Schenkel E-Z-Go-Invitational on Saturday at Forest Heights Country Club.

The Gators fired a tournament-low 279 and trail No. 1/2 Alabama by four shots for the overall lead. The Crimson Tide has shot rounds of 285 and 280 in two days. No. 20 South Carolina is in second place at 9-under following a 281 on Saturday. UF is two strokes better than first round leader No. 8 Tennessee, who dropped to fourth after posting a second-round 289.

“It has been a long time coming,” UF head coach Buddy Alexander said. “We’ve had a stretch of mediocre play. We’ve played seven rounds since the (SunTrust) Gator (Invitational) and six of them have been less than what we would have liked. Today felt pretty good needless to say.”

The Gators entered the day in sixth place at 2-over par, but thanks to steady iron play and timely putts, UF gained nine shots and is at 7-under overall. The 9-under 279 tied for the 10th-lowest round by par in school history.

 

Villegas and Horschel made their moves on Saturday as the two leaped from a tie for 16th to a share of first place heading into the final round. Both blistered the course with 5-under 67s and combined for 12 birdies and only two bogeys. They hold the lead with Brad Smith (UAB), Zach Sucher (UAB), George Bryan IV (South Carolina) and Matthew Swan (Alabama).

Villegas turned in one of the most memorable rounds of his career as he tied his career-low score with the 67. Villegas was 1-over for his round heading to the par-4 fifth before notching a pair of birdies to close his front nine at 1-under. He gave a stroke back at the par-4 11th but closed with an impressive flurry of red numbers.

Villegas would go on to birdie five of his next six holes, including four consecutive birdies beginning at the 14th hole through one of the most difficult stretches of the golf course. The barrage was highlighted by a difficult downhill putt on the 15th hole as he closed his back nine with a 4-under 32.

“He has been pretty consistent this semester,” Alexander said of Villegas. “I had a conversation with him before the round and told him he had been playing solidly and just needed to bust it loose with a low round. He was swinging it well, and he just needed to trust his actions and go play. I think that is what happened today.”

Horschel was equally outstanding and rode the momentum of his putter to his 12th round of the year at or under par. The All-American did not card a bogey and played his last five holes of the front nine at 3-under before rolling in birdies on the par-4 11th and the par-4 17th. Both Horschel and Villegas are seeking UF’s first individual medal of the year.

“With Billy it was just putting today,” Alexander said. “I don’t think he hit it any better than he did yesterday. Putting has been a problem for him of late, and today, he made some putts.”

Florida’s climb up the standings was fueled by senior Tyler Brown (Jacksonville , Fla.) as well. Brown tallied an ever-par 72 and sits in a tie for 12th place at 2-under overall. He played his front nine at 1-under, counted back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes and carded four bogeys on the day.

Junior Will Strickler (Charlottesville, Va.) advanced 13 spots to a tie for 63rd following a 1-over 73. Strickler managed one birdie to no bogeys on his front nine but played his final nine holes at 2-over. He is one of several players at 7-over, including sophomore Tyson Alexander (Gainesville, Fla.).

 

Alexander had three birdies on his front nine but took an eight at the par-4 11th. He closed with a four on the par-5 18th to end his round with a 3-over 75.

 

Sunday’s final round begins at 8 a.m. ET. Live scoring can be found at www.Golfstat.com.

Team Scores After Day 2

Place

School

Score

1.

Alabama  

285-280=565 (-11)

2.

South Carolina

286-281=567 (-9)  

3.

Florida  

290-279=569 (-7)  

4.

Tennessee

282-289=571 (-5)  

5.

UAB

286-289=575 (-1)  

6.

LSU

287-291=578 (+2)  

7.

Kentucky

294-289=583 (+7)  

8.

Augusta State     

295-291=586 (+10)  

9.

Auburn  

296-291=587 (+11)

10.

North Carolina     

298-290=588 (+12)  

11.

Georgia Southern   

301-288=589 (+13)

T12.

Notre Dame

297-294=591 (+15)

T12.

Michigan State     

295-296=591 (+15)  

T12.

Minnesota

305-286=591 (+15)  

15.

North Carolina State   

296-296=592 (+16)

16.

North Florida     

303-291=594 (+18)  

17.

New Mexico    

304-294=598 (+22)  

18.

Boston College   

318-305=623 (+47)  

 

Individual Top 10 After Day 2

Place

Player (School)

Score

T1.

Manuel Villegas (Florida)

72-67=139 (-5)  

T1.

Billy Horschel (Florida)  

72-67=139 (-5)  

T1.

Brad Smith (UAB)  

70-69=139 (-5)   

T1.

Zach Sucher (UAB)    

68-71=139 (-5)

T1.

George Bryan IV (South Carolina)   

73-66=139 (-5)

T1.

Matthew Swan (Alabama)   

71-68=139 (-5)  

T7.

Clayton Rotz (LSU)     

68-72=140 (-4)

T7.

Stewart Whitt (Alabama)   

69=71=140 (-4)

T7.

Mark Anderson (South Carolina)  

68-72=140 (-4)

T7.

Michael Thompson (Alabama)    

69-71=140 (-4)

 

Florida Day 2 Results

Place

Player

Score

T1.

Manuel Villegas     

72-67=139 (-5)  

T1.

Billy Horschel   

72-67=139 (-5) 

T12.

Tyler Brown    

70-72=142 (-2)  

T63.

Will Strickler     

78-73=151 (+7)

T63.

Tyson Alexander    

76-75=151 (+7)  

 

 

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