Sophomore Ryan Cochran won a three-hole playoff that proved to be the decisive win as the No. 1 University of Florida mens golf team defeated UNLV, 3-2, to win the Hooters Mens Match Play Collegiate Championship on Sunday at Barefoot Resort.
The tournament win is the third for the Gators in the fall season and marks the first time that Florida has posted three tournament victories in the fall in the last 25 years.
With victories already in the fold by sophomore Brett Stegmaier and freshman Jessie Mudd, Cochran fought back after trailing for most of his match against UNLVs Andres Gonzales. Cochran was down by two holes after 16 and won the final two to force a playoff. Both players tied on the first two extra holes before Cochran made par on the third hole and Gonzales bogeyed to seal the win for the Gators.
'Its a special event in that its match play and that you have to be invited based on last years NCAA tournament,' Florida coach Buddy Alexander said. 'To come up with a win here is big for us, its big for our program and gives us a lot of exposure. Im excited most of all for my kids. They played with their hearts out and hung in there. It didnt look good today for a while, but they did what they needed to do to win and thats what matters.'
Stegmaier also came back from a deficit to earn his win against Ryan Keeney of UNLV. Stegmaier trailed for the first 14 holes before squaring up at holes 15 and 17 and winning the final hole by shooting a five to Keeneys six.
Mudd remained undefeated at the tournament by winning his third match against UNLVs J.C. Deacon. Mudd was behind one hole after six, but won five of the last nine to win 4-and-3.
Senior Camilo Villegas dropped his first match of the tournament to Ryan Moore of UNLV 2 and 1. Villegas led after 12 holes, but Moore took three of the final five to earn the victory.
Sophomore Matt Every also fell in his last match to UNLVs Travis Whisman 2-and-1.
With the win, Florida concluded its fall 2003 season. The Gators return to the links when Florida hosts the SunTrust Gator Invitational Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at the University Golf Course.