Florida men’s golf opens postseason play at SEC Championship

The University of Florida men’s golf team is set to play in the SEC Championship beginning Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 17 in St. Simons Island, Ga. at the Seaside Golf Club.

The Gators will seek their first championship since 2003, when they shot an 856, led by medalist Brett Stegmaier’s 203.

Florida has achieved second-place finishes in five of the last ten years, coming in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.

The Championship is three rounds, 18 holes per day at the Seaside Course, where the SEC Golf Tournament has been played since 2001.

“It’s a pretty long test, over 54 holes, it’s not like you can go out there and win for the day and win the tournament,” said Florida head coach Buddy Alexander. “You’re going to have to play three really good rounds and not have any hiccups.”

UF is led by senior Bank Vongvanij (Bradenton, Fla.), who boasts a team-high 70.85 stroke average. Vongvanij has earned three medalist honors so far this season, and three more in the top five in nine tournaments.

“We’ve had a couple of weeks to work on things,” said Vongvanij. “We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Sophomore Phillip Choi (Orlando, Fla.) will play at the No. 2 spot with a 71.19 stroke average. Choi has finished in the top 10 in the last eight of Florida’s nine tournaments, including his first medalist honor at the John Hayt Invitational on March 1.

At the No. 3 spot, redshirt senior Andres Echavarria (Medellin, Colombia) holds a 71.67 stroke average and has not fallen out of the top 20 through the six tournaments he has competed in. In addition, Echavarria won the Gator Invitational for Florida and earned a second-place finish at a Nationwide Tournament as an individual.

“Every player is trying to peak right now for the SEC championship and before the NCAAs,” said Echavarria. “I think we’re well-prepared and well-coached and I think we will do well.”

Sophomores Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) and Tommy Mou (Bradenton, Fla.) will play in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively. McCumber has six finishes in the top 20 through nine tournaments and Mou has two in seven tournaments.

The tournament is scheduled to tee off at 8 a.m. on Friday.

“This is the best SEC field I’ve seen in years, but we’re certainly capable and we are confident going into this tournament,” said Alexander.  “We’re going to be ready to play and hopefully this will be our year. We have finished second a whole lot of times and it’s just about time for the Gators to win another one.”