The Gators clawed their way from seventh to fourth in the final round of the NCAA Bath Regional after a rough start in the first round. Over the final nine holes of the tournament and what could have been a season, Florida secured a spot above the top five to advance to the National Championship.

The Florida men’s golf team finished 12 under at the NCAA Regional to finish in the top five. The fourth-place finish will advance the Gators to the National Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship.

“I never doubted they would find a way to do it,” head coach JC Deacon said. “I’m really excited for the boys to get a chance to compete for a national championship.”

UF traveled to Bath, Michigan to compete in the NCAA Regional on Monday.

The starting lineup consisted of redshirt freshman Matthew Kress and seniors Ricky Castillo, Fred Biondi, John Dubois and Yusin Lin.

Florida went into Monday’s four-under 280. UF finished the first round tied for seventh and one stroke out of the top five. Teams that finish in the top five advance to the NCAA National Championships.

Biondi, Castillo and DuBois led the team in fewer points at the end of the first 18 games.

In the second set of nine holes, DuBois was bogey-free and three-under par to finish 30th individually. The senior birdied holes 17 and 18 to finish at 71.

Biondi and Castillo were both evenly matched in the second half of the round. They finished 20th in the second round.

Kress and Lynn finished 44th individually with a score of 71.

The second round starts at 8:55 a.m. on Tuesday.

UF tied for sixth place with a score of 284.

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Biondi had one score in the last 36 holes. The Brazilian hit two shots in the 60s. Two birdies on holes 14 and 18 kept the Gators out of the top five.

Biondi finished second overall at five under, finishing sixth individually.

Whether Florida made it to the NCAA Nationals or not, Biondi would have been able to make the national team as an individual player. The top finisher from each team that didn’t advance gets a chance to compete in the national competition.

Lynn had a double bogey on the fifth hole but managed to claw his way to even after a birdie on the 18th hole. Castillo scored even in the second round to stay two under par. Lynn finished 37th and Castillo 21st after the second round.

The team finished the second round seven strokes behind the top five.

The Gators lost in the final round on Wednesday. It was during the final nine holes of the third round that Florida moved back from seventh to fourth.

Lynn, Castillo and DuBois led the Gators in scoring in the 60s. Lynn had three birdies in the first four holes to finish tied for 11th with Castillo.

“You just have to see if everyone else can handle the moment as well as you,” Deacon said.

Cress and Castillo both had a pair of birdies to start moving UF back up the leaderboard. Lin made three straight birdies on holes 14 through 16 to give the Gators a four-stroke lead.

“The season was on the line and we needed a big round from somebody,” Deacon said.

Florida will be making its 56th NCAA Championship appearance and fifth under Deacon.

The NCAA National Championships will be held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 26-31. Play time will be based on the final Golfstat ranking after regional play is completed.

Contact Madilyn DeStefano at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @DestefanoMadi.

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