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Gators' J.C. Deacon selected to coach 2021 Palmer Cup

8 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

The following story, written by Morgan Perry, was originally published on floridagators.com.

Florida's J.C. Deacon and Cal Poly's Sofie Aagaard have been selected to lead the International side of competition at the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup. Coaching 24 of the world's best amateur international golfers, they'll take the stage against the United States at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Deacon, a Toronto, Ontario native, begins his seventh season at the helm of the University of Florida men's golf program. Finding sustained success during the spring of 2020, including three straight top-five finishes and the first win at home since 2011, the Gators were primed for a run in the SEC and NCAA championships before the season was abruptly cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, Deacon oversaw arguably the best one-two duo in the nation between junior John Axelsen and freshman Ricky Castillo. Both players received recognition at the national and league level upon conclusion of the season. Castillo, who is set to compete in the U.S. Open beginning on September 17, was named the 2020 Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award recipient, as well as SEC Freshman of the Year. Axelsen, who announced in May his decision to turn pro and forgo his senior year, earned both first team All-American and All-SEC honors.

The Arnold Palmer Cup, co-founded by Arnold Palmer and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA), began in 1997. The Ryder Cup-style tournament features the top men's and women's college golfers, matching the United States against a team of international players. Co-ed since 2018, it is one of the only events in the sport of golf that features men and women competing side-by-side. Since the first tournament, over 100 former participants have gone on to earn their PGA Tour, European Tour, or LPGA cards. The United States currently leads the series 12-10-1.

The 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup, originally scheduled for July 3-5, was postponed to December 21-23 at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 24 athletes selected to represent the United States, the University of Florida claims two. Rising sophomore Ricky Castillo and senior Addie Baggarly were both tabbed to represent the country back in March.

Castillo, currently preparing for his debut in the U.S. Open, was one of six committee selections for the tournament. He is the seventh Gator to earn this honor.

With her ranking selection, Baggarly becomes the first Florida women's golfer in program history to be tabbed for the Arnold Palmer Cup.

The Cup is supported by Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation, a charity devoted to continuing the philanthropic work of Arnold Palmer and his wife, Winnie. The foundation is committed to youth development, including furthering the game of amateur and collegiate golf.