(Florida Athletics Photo)
WINDERMERE, FL (October 17, 2016) -- With another day of stellar play No. 8 Florida has broken free of a first round tie to lead the Tavistock Collegiate Intercollegiate by nine-strokes. Florida will now look to complete a wire-to-wire victory on Tuesday at Isleworth Country Club.
Pacing Florida is sophomore Alejandro Tosti, who is 9-under thanks to a tournament best 7-under 65 in the second round. 2-under to begin the day, Tosti found his stride right of the gate with birdies on the first three holes to reach 5-under. The hot stretch continued with a fourth birdie on No. 7 and an eagle on the par-5 ensuing hole to reach 6-under for the day.
After turning in 6-under 30 the Argentinian continued his strong play with a 1-under 35 on the backside. The closing nine included three birdies and two bogeys. On Tuesday, Tosti will be looking for his second collegiate individual title and first outright following a tie for first at the FGCU Classic in 2015.
"In our team meeting last night, Jorge Garcia said that on any given day, any one of our players can shoot a 65 or lower, and Alejandro (Tosti) obviously went out and did that today and that carried us to a very good round of golf. When he faced adversity today, he handled it as we thought he would, as a Gator. Today, when he had back-to-back bogeys and faced adversity, he handled it well and I was very proud of him for that," Associate Head Coach John Handrigan told Florida athletics.
From top to bottom Florida has received strong play and through 36-holes all five players are inside the top-16. Sophomore Jorge Garcia is tied for seventh at 2-under, Sam Horsfield is 1-under and tied for 12th while sophomore Gordon Neale and freshman Andy Zhang are even and in a tie for 16th.
"It's a great feeling (having the lead) going into tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're going to play hard for Pete Fox (a Florida alum who has been a great supporter to the program for the past couple of years and one of the reasons for (the Gators') success.). Coach Deacon missed part of the day because he was going to a dinner for Pete Fox. (Fox) is a close person to Gator golf, all of our players know him. He's not doing too well in his fight with cancer, so we're going to go out and play hard for Pete tomorrow," Handrigan said.
Two-strokes behind Tosti in the individual race is first round leader Hannes Ronneblad. The Texas Tech senior is 7-under following scores of 67-70. Three players --Matthias Schwab of Vanderbilt, Patrick Martin also of Vanderbilt and North Carolina's William Register-- are tied for third at 5-under. North Florida's Andrew Alligood is sixth with a 4-under tally.
No. 5 Vanderbilt is Florida's closest pursuer and they are in second place at 7-under, Purdue is 3-under in third, No. 20 North Carolina is the final team in red figures at 2-under and in fourth while 1-over North Florida sits in fifth.
Defending champion and top-ranked Illinois moved up to a tie for seventh and they will begin the final round 4-over.
-Florida athletics contributed to this story
ROUND ONE RECAP
After the first round of the loaded Tavistock Collegiate Invitational No. 8 Florida and Purdue lead the way at 5-under. The leaders will carry a slim lead into the second at Isleworth Country Club over North Florida and No. 9 Vanderbilt, both teams are 2-under and tied for third.
"We've been focusing on finishing, what it takes to finish, and all of the little details that go into finishing the round. We have an awesome team and these guys are so, so talented. Alejandro (Tosti) had a big-time round going today. It's a long race this week and this year, but today was a product of our preparation and a nice start to get us in contention for the rest of the week," head coach J.C. Deacon told Florida athletics.
Florida was led on day one by sophomore Jorge Garcia. Currently Garcia is tied for fourth at 3-under. Garcia, from Venezuela, started his round on the 10th hole and was even-par through 15 holes before catching fire late with birdies on Nos. 6-8.
"Lucky for me, I was with Jorge (Garcia) today and we really focused on our walking and breathing and all of the weird things that golfers need to focus on," said Deacon. "He did a wonderful job. He admitted that he started thinking about his results and his future a little bit, but caught himself in the moment and got back to what he needed to focus on to execute the next shot and he finished phenomenally. To play those last four holes at three under-par, Jorge picked up a lot of strokes on everyone. We really appreciated it, it helped the team a lot."
Two other Gators are in the top-10 with junior Alejandro Tosti in a tie for sixth at 2-under and sophomore Sam Horsfield tied for 10th, following a 1-under tally.
Purdue was paced by a pair of players, Austin Eoff and Timmy Hildebrand, who are 2-under and tied for sixth. Eoff, a senior and second team All-Big Ten performer last year, eagled the par-5 13th and also carded two birdies while bogeying twice. For Hilledrand, a sophomore it was a five birdie, three bogey round.
The medalist race so far belongs to Texas Tech senior Hannes Ronneblad. A native of Sweden, Ronneblad bogeyed the 3rd before rounding into form to post a 5-under 67. A PING All-Region honoree a season ago, Ronneblad birdied Nos. 6-8 in succession and then added three more birdies on the backside.
Behind Ronneblad it is North Florida's Andrew Alligood and UCF's Donnie Trosper in second at 4-under. In addition to Florida's Garcia, Augusta's Broc Everett is 3-under in a fourth place tie.
The top-five of the team standings is filled out by the even-par teams of Arizona State and Augusta.
Top-ranked and defending champion Illinois struggled in the first round and they are presently 7-over and in 10th.
-Florida Athletics contributed to this story