ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Opening its round on the vaunted back nine of the Golf Club of Georgia, the seventh-ranked University of Florida men’s golf team posted a second-round 285 (-3), the second-lowest showing of the day, to move into second at the NCAA East Regional. The Gators will open on Saturday with a total of 575 (-1), just one stroke behind 36-hole leader Georgia.
The Gators used a collective strong finish to propel them to their best round in relation to par since the first round of the Puerto Rico Classic, as three UF players birdied the ninth hole. Florida was also below par as a squad on holes 1-9 on Friday, while shooting just four over as a unit on the difficult back nine.
“We’ve left ourselves with a good chance to win the golf tournament, and that’s right where we wanted be heading into this weekend,” Florida head coach Buddy Alexander said. “We got rolling on the back nine, and a few guys came through for us with good scores. It feels good to be in the hunt again, and I’m excited to see what we’re able to do tomorrow.”
Sophomore Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) played a nearly flawless round on Friday, rolling in four birdies and carding just one bogey en route to a second-round 69 (-3). The SEC Player of the Year played his last nine holes at three under par, sinking a birdie putt on the par-five ninth that sent the Gators to three-under for the day. Through 36 holes of play, Horschel has amassed 28 pars and five birdies, while only recording three bogeys, and worked his way to a total of 142 (-2). Friday’s action was the 15th postseason round of Horschel’s career, and his eighth round below par during that time. When third-round play begins on Saturday, Horschel will stand in a tie for third on the individual leader board, an improvement of 20 spots over his day-one placing.
“Billy’s good round was one of the more encouraging things that I saw today, and it looked like he got back to playing the way he’s capable of playing,” Alexander said. “Billy knows that he has to be good for us to be good, but he’s at his best when he forgets about that and just plays golf. That’s exactly what we saw from him this afternoon.”
Birdies on each of his last two holes allowed junior Tyler Brown (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), to post a two-under 70 in the second, moving his tournament total to 146 (+4) and tying him for 34th place. The pair of birdies to close the round were just a portion of the half dozen circled numbers on Brown’s card in the second round. After making the turn at even par for the day, Brown played holes 1-9 at a two-under clip that featured three birdies and just one bogey.
Freshman Tim McKenney (Scottsdale, Ariz.) used a pair of birdies and 13 pars to combat three second-round bogeys, finishing the day with a one-over 73. The effort moved McKenney’s score to 145 (+1) after two rounds of play, good for a share of 11th place. With one round left to play, McKenney is squarely in the hunt for the fourth top-20 finish of his career, and his second in the Gators’ last four tournaments.
Junior Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) improved one stroke over his first-round performance, carding a one-over 71 on Friday to claim a 36-hole total of 147 (+3). He registered back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes to get off to a quick start, and brought the round home on a positive note with yet another UF birdie on the ninth. Villegas will rest in a tie for 25th when third-round play opens on Saturday. Sophomore Toby Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla.) turned in a six-over 78 in the second round, dropping into a 45th-place tie with a score of 149 (+5).
“We were in good position (to win) heading into the back nine at the SEC Championship, and we didn’t handle it particularly well, but we certainly learned some things from that experience,” Alexander said. “Hopefully we’ll show what we learned tomorrow and use it to our advantage as we try to win the tournament. It’s going to take four good scores to do it, but we got that today and I think we have a good shot to do it again tomorrow.”
Georgia holds the slimmest of leads over the Gators heading into the final round of competition, owning a two-under 574 through 36 holes. Georgia Tech’s Cameron Tringale maintained his spot atop the individual race with a two-under 67 on Friday, and will begin third-round play with a total of 137 (-7) and a two-stroke lead. Scoring will be done live on the Internet at http://www.golfstat.com, and can also be accessed at http://www.gatorzone.com.
Team Scores Through Round Two
Place School Score
1. Georgia 286-288 = 574 (-2)
2. FLORIDA 290-285 = 575 (-1)
3. Auburn 293-284 = 577 (+1)
4. Georgia Tech 284-294 = 578 (+2)
5. Duke 288-293 = 581 (+5)
6. Charlotte 296-291 = 587 (+11)
7. Coastal Carolina 300-290 = 590 (+14)
8. North Carolina 305-286 = 591 (+15)
T9. Florida State 300-292 = 592 (+16)
T9. Clemson 293-299 = 592 (+16)
T11. UCF 299-294 = 593 (+17)
T11. Georgia State 289-304 = 593 (+17)
13. Virginia Tech 304-292 = 596 (+20)
14. Penn State 297-304 = 601 (+25)
15. UAB 303-299 = 602 (+26)
16. Jacksonville State 303-301 = 604 (+28)
T17. Chattanooga 299-306 = 605 (+29)
T17. Maryland 295-310 = 605 (+29)
19. Mississippi 309-297 = 606 (+30)
20. Eastern Michigan 300-309 = 609 (+33)
21. Old Dominion 314-301 = 615 (+39)
22. St. John’s 316-302 = 618 (+42)
23. Louisiana-Lafayette 309-319 = 628 (+52)
24. Rhode Island 321-309 = 630 (+54)
25. Boston College 315-316 = 631 (+55)
T26. Hartford 321-315 = 636 (+60)
T26. Longwood 309-327 = 636 (+60)
Individual Top-10 Through Round Two
Place Player Score
1. Cameron Tringale (Georgia Tech) 67-70 = 137 (-7)
2. Brendon Todd (Georgia) 70-69 = 139 (-5)
T3. Chris Kirk (Georgia) 71-71 = 142 (-2)
T3. BILLY HORSCHEL (FLORIDA) 73-69 = 142 (-2)
T5. Chesson Hadley (Georgia Tech) 68-75 = 143 (-1)
T5. Patton Kizzire (Auburn) 71-72 = 143 (-1)
T5. Bryan Rozier (Jacksonville State) 69-74 = 143 (-1)
T8. Brian Harman (Georgia) 73-71 = 144 (E)
T8. Kyle Stanley (Clemson) 73-71 = 144 (E)
T8. Glenn Northcutt (Auburn) 77-67 = 144 (E)
Florida Results Through Round Two
Place Player Score
T3. Billy Horschel 73-69 = 142 (-2)
T11. Tim McKenney 72-73 = 145 (+1)
T25. Manuel Villegas 74-73 = 147 (+3)
T34. Tyler Brown 78-70 = 148 (+4)
T45. Toby Ragland 71-78 = 149 (+5)