KISSIMMEE — On a wet first day of the NCAA Regionals, the top four in the Florida men’s golf lineup combined to record just four bogeys.
Florida carded a season-best 12-under-par and is tied for the lead with host UCF. Both schools are seven shots above the cut line as the top five teams in the regional will advance to the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Okla.
The Gator top three of Gordon Neale, Andy Zhang and John Axelsen all sit inside of the top 10 of the leaderboard while Chris Nido is tied for 21st.
Zhang, who at one point lived on the Watson Course, was bogey-free Monday carding all four of his birdies on the back nine. Neale and Zhang are both one shot off the individual lead at four-under while Axelsen (-3) is two off the lead.
After being on the course for a little over an hour, play was suspended due to heavy rain in the Kissimmee area. The delay did not seem to faze the Gators, who led for nearly the entire first round and were nine-under-par after play resumed.
“That’s the big difference I’m starting to see with this team, adversity just isn’t that big of a deal anymore.,” UF coach J.C. Deacon said. “We have a long way to go, but today was a great foundation to build on. I’m excited to see us play even better.”
This is the fourth time this season the Florida has led after 18 holes of play including the Trinity Forest and Southern Highlands, both tournament the Gators won.
Florida will be paired with UCF (-12) and Kent State (-8) in round two Tuesday. The first tee time is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., as Alejandro Tosti will be the first Gator player out on the course.
Grades: Between seven conference championships and one NCAA Championship (so far), it has been an impressive year for Florida.
However, Florida’s student-athletes have been quite successful in the classroom as well.
Just over a week ago, 59 student-athletes received their UF degrees. Now the Gators can boast about an athletic department cumulative grade point average of 3.15 for the spring semester.
“Our staff and in particular, our academic staff under the direction of Jeff Guin at the Hawkins Center, are fully invested in the academic progress and success of our student athletes,” UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. “Those athletes who compete for championships every day on their respective fields of play, are equally committed in the classroom and we are very proud of their accomplishments this Spring.”
More highlights from the Gators’ spring semester in the academic arena:
• 15 of the 19 teams posted a GPA above 3.0
• The overall student-athlete GPA increased for the fourth straight semester
• Overall cumulative GPA of student-athletes is 3.11
• 327 student athletes earned above a 3.0 GPA
• 31 student athletes across 11 teams earned a 4.0 GPA