The Gators have been the consensus No. 1 team in the land after capturing seven team titles this season. But the post-season has not been as kind to Buddy Alexanders squad. Georgia bettered Florida at the SECs, and Clemson, along with three others, finished ahead of UF at the East Regional.
This is not the time of year for a team to be out of sorts. After having a strong hold on the mens game from Day 1, the Gators are certainly not at their best at what is the most important time of the year. The college game is all about peaking in late spring, and that is exactly what Clemson is doing, and Florida is not.
One has to wonder what is the mindset of Alexanders team. Do they now question their chances at The Homestead next week? Will all their hard work and success during the regular season be for naught if they dont win the National Championship? Have they already played their best golf of the season? These are just a few of queries the Gators might be facing after going 0-for-2 thus far in the post-season.
Right now, senior Camilo Villegas seems to be the only Gator on form, as he was runner-up at Yale (site of the East Regionals). Sophomore Matt Every failed to finish in the top 10 at Regionals for only the third time this year. James Vargas returned to the lineup after sitting out the spring due to academic issues. A tie for 41st is all James could muster in his 2004 debut. Brett Stegmaier and Jessie Mudd posted T68 and T81, respectively; far from what they are capable of doing.
The Gators are still more than capable of taking home the trophy next week in Hot Springs, Va. But if this is to happen, they will need to forget what happened the past two times out, and perhaps even forget about the success throughout the year.
Dan Brooks, the head coach for the Duke women, told me last week that he was hoping his team would not forget about what they did in the regular season. Brooks said his team had such success all year long, why shouldnt they draw on those experiences. It didnt work for the Blue Devils, and I think as much as being outplayed by UCLA, they didnt know how to react when finding themselves in an unfamiliar position. Well, Florida is in that position now, knowing full well they can be beaten. The one thing the Gators do have going for them: they have one week and one event remaining to figure out how to right the ship.
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