Back Nine: UF baseball's surprising push

Published: Monday, May 4, 2009 at 5:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 at 5:45 p.m.

The Back Nine takes a look this week at a wild Kentucky Derby, Gator baseball, the dream team and a wacky Congress.

1. It has been awhile since a Florida baseball team has had a more important sweep than the Gators did this past weekend. Three straight over Georgia in Athens? Who saw that coming? For the first time this season, I'm starting to think it's possible for Florida to host a regional. UF clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament and is now eighth in the nation in RPI. In other words, if the season ended today, the Gators would almost certainly be hosting. Kevin O'Sullivan's team is tied for the lead in the SEC because (in conference games only) the Gators are second in the league in both hitting and pitching.

2. Maybe I'm exaggerating but the Kentucky Derby was the second coolest horse race I've ever seen. No. 1 is still Secretariat's 25-length win in the Belmont 37 years ago. Still gives me goosebumps. But Mine That Bird's stretch run was amazing, especially when you saw it from NBC's skycam. It looked like the jockey was playing Frogger moving in and out through openings.

3. The Back Nine set up Saturday to watch Bulls-Celtics. but instead of getting a Shawshank Redemption ending we got, speaking of frogs, Magnolia. (If you've never seen either movie, the former was a great ending, the latter was a letdown.) Oh well. The playoffs will be a lot less interesting with Joakim Noah gone.

4. The Back Nine asked Florida softball coach Tim Walton if there had been any surprises this year. "Michelle Moultrie has been a little bit of a surprise," he said. "I'm not surprised at how good an athlete she is but surprised at how well she's handled herself. She's never cracked." Moultrie, a freshman, replaced injured Kim Waleszonia in the starting lineup and has hit .242 while committing only two errors for the 52-3 Gators.

5. The column by Chris Dufrense of the L.A. Times that we ran in Monday's paper about Congress and the BCS makes you wonder. Don't we have bigger problems? And who briefs these guys? After reading about the Congressman having no clue what they were talking about, I started to realize I'm becoming a pro-BCS guy. And that's just sad.

6. The Players Championship has so many story lines this week it promises to feel like a major. One of them, of course, is Tiger Woods' return to Sawgrass. After watching him at Augusta and Quail Hollow, I think his killer instinct is a little rusty. He couldn't close his rounds at The Masters and couldn't close the weekend in Charlotte. But it will come. And when it does, watch out.

7. Still, you couldn't help but root for Sean O'Hair. Not only is there the well-documented story about his father pushing him so hard they don't speak anymore, but his collapse at Bay Hill in March was painful to watch. Nice bounce back. Here's a good stat for you O'Hair is the only American under 30 who has three Tour wins. The other two under 30 who have done it are Australian Adam Scott and last year's Players winner, Sergio Garcia of Spain.

8. Ah, the World Wide Interweb (another movie reference). When you make a mistake, you're going to hear it. Last week I had a Dooley Noted item about Auburn coaches parading recruits around in limos. I obviously misread the story because it was Auburn coaches in the limos going from school to school. War Eagle fans have corrected me with dozens of e-mails. My bad. Now calm down.

9. Last week I asked readers to give me the three former Gators they'd chose to play with in a pro-am. Thanks for the many responses. Scott Shields of Boca Raton gets my vote. "I would take Camilo Villegas, not only for the handicap help, but also to attract all the beautiful Gainesville women to follow us around. I'd select David Eckstein, who I believe would scrap, scramble and would somehow find a way to get up and down from 90 yards out from behind a tree. Plus, a more polite player has never worn a Gator uniform. And of course, Tim Tebow, because when I hit it into the lake, I need someone that can either part the water or walk on top of it to find my ball." Nicely done.

Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or at

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