TUCSON, Ariz. -- The University of Florida Mens golf team advanced to the NCAA Championship on Saturday after tying Arizona for first-place at the West Regional Tournament. The Gators completed the three-day tournament with a team score of 827 (273-282-272 = 827) and set a school record by finishing at 37-under-par.
Freshman Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) had a solid day, carding a career-best score of 66 (-6) to take a share of first-place for his first collegiate victory. Horschel made five birdies and an eagle during the final round to lead the team. He also made a 12-foot putt on the final hole to pull the Gators even with Arizona in the team standings.
I cant say enough about Billy, Florida head coach Buddy Alexander said. .He keeps adding on to the incredible season he already has. From a confidence standpoint, this will definitely make feel better about himself heading into the NCAA Championship.
Horschels performance at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club completed a record-setting weekend for the Gators. He joined the company of Camilo Villegas, Bubba Dickerson, Dudley Hart and current teammates Jessie Mudd (Louisville, Ky.) and Brett Stegmaier (Madison, Conn.) as the only Gators to shoot a 66 during their freshman season. Records for this category date back to 1977.
Horschels share of the individual medal also gave the team three individual winners for the season, something that has not happened since 2003 when the Gators last won the National Championship. Senior Matt Every (Daytona Beach, Fla.) started the season by winning the Inverness Invitational in September, while Stegmaier took home top-honors at the SEC Tournament in April.
Not to be overshadowed, Every fired his sixth-consecutive round at par-or-under with a 70 (-2) during the final round to finish tied for ninth. Stegmaier moved into the top-25 by becoming the fourth Gator during the West Regional to card a 67 (-5).
Senior James Vargas (Miami, Fla.) also rebounded well by firing a final-round score of 69 (-3) to finished tied for 20th. Freshman Toby Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished his first post-season tournament tied for 54th place after back-to-back rounds of one-under-par 71.
Florida will have plenty of momentum heading into the NCAA Championship at Bend, Ore. on May 31-June 3. Their 37-under-par performance at the West Regional was one-stroke better than the 36-under-par score recorded by the team at the Atlanta Intercollegiate in 2003. The Gators also snapped a streak of three consecutive runner-up finishes.
It definitely breaks the streak, Alexander said. Were slowly inching our way to the top just in time. The NCAA Championship is shaping up to be an obvious showdown between the top three teams. We are certainly one of the better teams in the country and weve been that way since January.
The top 10 teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship. No. 1-ranked Georgia fell by one-stroke to Wake Forest in the East Regional, while No. 2 Oklahoma State won the Central Regional. Florida was ranked No. 3 in the latest Golfweek and GCAA polls. Florida has advanced to the NCAA Championship in 24 of the last 25 years.