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Junior Camilo Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) won the fifth medalist title of his career.

Tuesday September 17, 2002Men's Golf Opens Season With Victory At Inverness

Gainesville, FL

Junior Camilo Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) won the fifth medalist title of his career.

There wouldn't have been a better way for the University of Florida men's golf team to open the season, but with a win and a medalist winner at the 2002 Inverness Invitational. They did both. The Gators overcame a one-stroke deficit to Michigan State in the final round at the Inverness Golf Course in Toledo, Ohio, to win the season-opening tournament with a +26 (878) Tuesday. In addition, junior Camilo Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) fired an even-par 71 on the final 18 to share medalist honors with Fresno State's Nick Watney at +2 (215).

"There's no better way to open the season than with a win," said Buddy Alexander, who won his 60th career tournament in his 24th season as a head coach -- 47 of those victories coming as the head coach of Florida. "The guys faced some early adversity and they responded. This is a great tournament to grow on."

The third-ranked Gators finished nine-strokes ahead of second-place Oklahoma State (887), No. 8 in the Golfworld Coaches' Preseason Poll. Kansas State and Michigan State finished in a tie for third at 889, while No. 24 Toledo (the host school) finished fifth with an 891 (+39).

The victory is the highest finish in a season-opener for the Gators since 1997, when Florida finished second of 14 teams at the Keswick Club Cavalier Classic. The medalist honor was Villegas' fifth of his career and moved him into a tie for second-place with Brian Gay for most career medalist honors. Only Chris DiMarco's mark of seven career medalist titles is above Villegas' total.

Freshman Brett Stegmaier (Madison, Conn.) made an impressive debut in his first collegiate tournament by finishing in a four-way tie for eighth at 220 (+7). The finish comes on the heels of an impressive summer for Stegmaier, who advanced to the match-play portion of the 102nd Annual U.S. Amateur Championship in late-August. Fellow newcomer Ryan Cochran (Paducah, Kent.) also made an eye-opening debut, as he finished in a four-way tie for 16th at +9 (222).

"The freshmen looked good these last two days," Alexander said. "They didn't look distracted and kept their minds focused on their games. I was real pleased with them."

Another Gator golfer turned in a memorable round, as senior Jordan Code (Tampa, Fla.) shot a two-over 73 to finish in a tie for 12th at 221 (+8). The 12th place effort is the highest finish of Code's career. His previous career-best finish was a tie for 14th at last spring's Puerto Rico Classic.

Fellow senior Dalton Melnyk (Jacksonville, Fla.) rounded out the five Gator golfers, as he finished his final round with a 77 and a tie for 66th at 238 (+25).

Florida will be back in action Sept. 27-29 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Georgia. The event will take place at The Farm Country Club.

 

Team Scores

  1. Florida 288-303-287 -- 878 (+26)
  2. Oklahoma State 306-294-287 -- 887 (+35)
  3. Kansas State 304-294-291 -- 889 (+37)

Michigan State 291-299-299 -- 889 (+37)

5. Toledo 297-301-293 -- 891 (+39)

  1. Georgia 300-294-299 -- 893 (+41)
  2. Fresno State 291-300-305 -- 896 (+44)
  3. Illinois 307-302-292 -- 901 (+49)
  4. Northwestern 306-300-300 -- 906 (+54)
  5. Kansas 304-307-298 -- 909 (+57)
  6. Long Beach State 309-302-299 -- 910 (+58)
  7. Kent State 302-295-315 -- 912 (+60)
  8. Kentucky 312-304-302 -- 918 (+66)
  9. Notre Dame 305-305-314 -- 924 (+72)
  10. UAB 314-311-317 -- 942 (+90)

Florida Scores

  1. Camilo Villegas 71-73-71 -- 215 (+2)
  1. Brett Stegmaier 70-79-71 -- 220 (+7)

12. Jordan Code 71-77-73 -- 221 (+8)

  1. Ryan Cochran 76-74-72 -- 222 (+9)

66. Dalton Melnyk 80-81-77 -- 238 (+25)

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