Florida struggles in round 2, tied for 11th

Published: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Minimizing mental mistakes was the mindset of Florida as it entered Thursday's second round of the NCAA Division I Championships.

Apparently that is easier spoken than executed, as the Gators found out.

One day after posting a 2-under score, Florida frittered away strokes and shot a 10-over 290 on the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club's Gold Course, sliding precariously down the leaderboard.

The Gators slid into a tie for 11th at 8-over 568 and are 15 strokes off the pace continuing to be set by Stanford, which is at 7-under 253. Following the Cardinal are Minnesota (6-under 254), Coastal Carolina (2-under 558), East Tennessee State (even-par 560) and Charlotte (2-over 562).

Individually, Minnesota's Bronson LaCassie leads at 8-under 132, followed by Vanderbilt's Jon Curran, who turned in the day's low round (64), at 6-under 134 and four players at 5-under 135 -- Stanford's Rob Grube, Coastal Carolina's Dustin Johnson, UAB's Zach Sucher and Georgia Tech's Cameron Tringale.

The 30-team field will be cut to 15 following today's third round, and, almost to a player, the Gators know that continuing to toss away shots will only quell their title hopes.

"I made some mistakes ※ stupid mistakes you could say," said Manuel Villegas, who actually had the Gators' second-best individual score with a 1-over 71 and is 1 over for the championship. "There are plenty of scoring opportunities out there, you just have to be smart and know when to be aggressive."

Minutes later, Billy Horschel uttered nearly the same words.

"The back side, I just made some stupid mistakes and when you do that they come back to bite you," said Horschel, who shot a 73 and is at 4-over 144 for the championship. He has played his two back nines in 6 over. "I wish I knew why that was."

Toby Ragland posted the Gators' lone sub-par round, 1-under 69, and is 1 under after 36 holes. Tim McKenney carded Florida's fourth score, a 7-over 77 that dropped him from 4 under to 3 over for the championship.

Ragland considered himself one of the fortunate Gators.

"I played about the same as I did [Wednesday]," he said. "I hit the ball about the same, putted about the same. I just played smarter and the difference was three shots better."

A second day of warm and breezy conditions left the 6,803-yard, par-70 course ripe for scoring, and its lone defense is a rough that becomes gnarlier by the day. And what many players are finding out is that it's better to just take the conservative approach from the rough.

"You just don't know what's going to happen when you get in there," Horschel said. "You may think you have a shot out of it, but then your club gets caught up in it. It's sometimes just better to chip out and move on."

The Gators would like to do just that, but at this point cannot afford many more mistakes.

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