LAS VEGAS — The Florida men’s golf team won the Southern Highlands Collegiate on Wednesday by shooting -4, 284 in the final round to finish 859 for the four-stroke decision.
Texas Tech and Southern Cal finished tied for second at 863.
The Gators won on the strength of putting four golfers in the Top 16: T7. Gordon Neale (-2), T11. Won Jun Lee (-1) and T16 John Axelsen (E) and freshman Chris Nido (E).
This is the second time this season Florida will be taking home some hardware as it also captured the Trinity Forest in September.
“I knew that we were right in it after day two,” UF assistant coach Mark Leon said. “A shot here or there really didn’t make a difference. The main thing that we talked about was to come back out and get back to their sharp decision making. If we did that, I didn’t know exactly where we would finish up but, at least you leave here happy.”
After ending the second round one stroke off the lead, the Gators got a clutch third round from Nido who carded a 4-under final 18. Nido was bogey-free through the first 12 holes and ended the day with a team-best six birdies. He moved up 26 spots in round three to finish tied for 15th on the leaderboard.
Sophomore Andy Zhang also went low Wednesday. Zhang started the day off by sinking three birdies in the first four holes. He score of 71 (-1) helped him move up 16 positions on the leaderboard to tie for 20th.
Justin Suh of Southern California was the individual winner at -8, 208 total.
Lacrosse: At Syracuse, No. 3 Florida (4-2) was unable to overcome a strong showing from No. 8 Syracuse on Wednesday, dropping a 17-15 decision in the Carrier Dome.
After a back-and-forth first half that featured four lead changes, the Gators entered halftime trailing 9-8, with Shayna Pirreca picking up five first half points.
“After coming out a little flat, I am proud of the way this team came together and fought their way back in to the game,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “I think we did a fantastic job in the draw circle today, with Shannon (Kavanagh) giving Sabrina (Cristodero) and Syd (Pirreca) the ability to give us possession.”
A Caroline Benitez goal with 12:11 remaining in the first half gave the Gators an 8-7 lead, but Florida was only able to score one goal over the next 29 minutes.
Syracuse (4-1) capitalized on the Florida drought and went on a 9-1 run during that stretch, building a 16-9 lead with 13:07 left in regulation.
Senior midfielder Allie Pavinelli sparked UF’s furious 5-0 run to close the game by finding Benitez in front of the cage for a quick-stick goal. Pavinelli would go on to score Florida’s next two goals, along with Lindsey Ronbeck and Shayna Pirreca to narrow the final margin to two.
Florida will get several days to rest before battling its fourth ranked opponent in a row, with No. 11 Navy (5-1) set to visit Gainesville on March 13.
“Syracuse played a great game today; give all the credit to them,” O’Leary said. “We will use the next few days to recover and prepare for a talented Navy team.”
Diving: At Knoxville, Tennessee, on the final day of NCAA Zones, Brooke Madden punched her ticket to the NCAA Championship in platform. The sophomore finished ninth in the women’s platform final, recording a score of 465.95.
After finishing ninth in 1-meter final with a score of 549.95 and 10th in the 3-meter final with a score of 590.95, Madden will be able to compete in all three events at the NCAA Championships.
Freshman Emma Whitner finished 14th overall in the platform final with a score of 432.90, just missing out on qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Competition continues for the Gators in the coming weeks with the NCAA Championships. The women’s meet runs from March 14-17 in Columbus, Ohio, while the men’s meet is March 21-24 in Minneapolis.