ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - A drama-filled finals rematch resulted in the Florida men's golf team being crowned the 2023 SEC Champions on Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club.
The match came all the way down to the 18th hole. It was last year's hero that had another memorable moment on 18-green. After John DuBois fired his approach shot right of the green and on the fringe, his opponent Reid Davenport landed in front of the green. Both were exactly 26 feet from the hole. DuBois added to the intensity of the finals as he brought the match all tied up on 16 after being down as many as 3-up on three occasions, including being three behind with seven holes left.
He knocked his third shot 15 feet of the cup. Last year's SEC Individual Champion, was clutch in the moment again and nailed the par putt for the eventual match clinching point as his opponent missed his to force extra holes.
Florida grabbed two early points with 5&4 wins from Matthew Kress and Ricky Castillo. Kress, who was a name to know this week, finished undefeated in his postseason debut and placed T19 in stroke play with final two rounds of 67 (-3) and 69 (-1).
Vandy followed with a quick 5&3 victory to make it 2-1. The remaining two matches were tied and the Commodores were 1-up. As DuBois and Davenport walked to their third shots, the attention turned to 17.
Fred Biondi who was paired up against last year's National Champion, Gordon Sargent, tied his match with a crucial birdie on the par-3 after he was 1 down with two holes left. The two were in the fairway as Biondi watched his fellow senior clinch it. The victory marks the first conference title for head coach J.C. Deacon and 16th all-time with the last being in 2011. UF has won a total of 260 SEC Championships across all sports and fifth this academic year; gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and volleyball. It is the fifth win this season, marking the 20th under Deacon and the ninth in the last three seasons. This is the sixth season with multiple wins with him at the helm as the most under him was six in 2016-17. Since 1965, Florida has won 165 team tournament titles.
With the win, Florida has earned an automatic qualification to the NCAA Regionals scheduled for May 15-17. The location where the Gators are headed to will be announced on May 3rd with the selection show airing live on Golf Channel.
Quotable Q: You said yesterday was one of the best days of your sporting life a couple of matches and your favorite hockey team won. You want to rearrange that now?
Florida Head Coach J.C. Deacon
"Yeah, this is this takes over for sure. Just never was got this far and was not sure it was ever going to happen. But it's the one I wanted the most. Credit to [Vanderbilt coaches] Scott Limbaugh and Gator Todd there - they just have the most incredible program. It took everything for us to beat him today. That says it all about my guys. We got an incredible team and we won the SEC Championship." Q: Now is it true that you told Coach you were gonna get him a ring when you were sending emails begging him to be on this team? It worked out fairly well?
Redshirt freshman Matthew Kress
"Yeah, it was [true]. I remember literally a couple of weeks ago sitting in his office and it wasn't the first time I told him that before I leave here I was gonna put a ring on his finger and it wasn't gonna be his wedding ring. And we did it man. It's crazy where I was couple years ago, with COVID hitting and a lot opportunities drying up. I basically begged this guy over here to give me a chance and I don't think I'll ever know why he gave me a chance but I'm sitting here today helping him [get a ring]." Q: Of course you've made a big a lot of big ones last year in this tournament. Walk us through there on the putt on the 18th
Senior John DuBois
"Yeah, we got up there had a pretty tough ship with how firm and fast the greens are right now. And ended up hitting about 15 feet by. He read it about dead straight. I like it because it's little left, a little right. I hit in about six out and thought 'That's gotta go'. And for sure it did. So it was a really awesome moment." Q: Talk about just what that means as far as Florida family and so many people coming out and gators supporting you this week.
Florida Coach J.C. Deacon
"Yes, that's the Gator Nation strong. I think the strongest were our guys who weren't in the lineup this week, drove up from Gainesville and stayed last night and they were boisterous all day. I heard them and I'm so proud of the culture we have and the family we're building. This is definitely for the Gator Nation. Shout out Jeremy Foley who took a shot on an assistant coach a long time ago. I told him I'd come here and get him a ring. So Jeremy, this one's for you."
|Florida (3)||3-1-1||Vanderbilt (4)|
|Matthew Kress||5&4||Matthew Riedel|
|John DuBois||1UP||Reid Davenport|
|Yuxin Lin||5&3||William Moll|
|Fred Biondi||Tie||Gordon Sargent|
|Ricky Castillo||5&4||Cole Sherwood|