UF Men’s Golf: Florida, Castillo Keep Gators Invitational Title at Home

Press release from UF Athletic Association

The Florida men’s golf team captured the VyStar Gators Invitational title by 18 strokes on Sunday.

Freshman Ricky Castillo paced the Florida men’s golf team in its first VyStar Gators Invitational title since 2011 on Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

The Gators shot 7 under in the final round of the event to finish 18 strokes ahead of Vanderbilt at 12-under par. Castillo signed the second-best individual score in tournament history with a 13-under 197, winning the individual title by eight strokes.

“It was really special. Winning here on your home track in front of a bunch of fans is pretty cool,” said Castillo. “I played really well all week, just the second round I got something going, made a few putts and then just didn’t stop.”

Following his second-round 63, Castillo remained near perfect through his final 18 holes, holding his spot at the top of the individual leaderboard. The freshman notched seven birdies throughout the day to put him at 6-under 64 for the round and in clear control of first place.

Junior John Axelsen also had a great final day on the Gators’ home track. The junior moved up five spots on the leaderboard to finish in third after shooting 4 under in the final round. The Denmark native signed a clean back nine to go along with five birdies on the day. Axelsen’s third-place finish marks his third top-three finish of the season.

In his last Gators Invitational in a Florida uniform senior Blake Dyer finished in the top 20, tying for 16th after shooting a collective 2 over. In the final round, Dyer had two birdies to end the day at 1 over.

Manny Girona shot 2-over 72 through his final 18 holes, rounding out the Gators’ counting scores for the day.

Junior Chris Nido finished the tournament at 6 over collectively to tie for 31st on the individual leaderboard.

Quentin Debove highlighted Florida’s individual players, ending the event at even par after a third-round 69. Debove’s even-par showing put him in a tie for 10th individually.


  *   This is the first year since 2011 that the Gators have boasted the individual champion at their home event and the first time that the Gators have won under head coach JC Deacon
  *   Castillo’s win this weekend comes right after his win at the Sea Best Invitational, marking the first time since 2011 that a Gator has notched back-to-back wins (Bank Vongvanji)
  *   Castillo’s 13-under 197 ties for the second lowest individual score at the Gators Invitational and is the third-lowest score in program history
  *   Florida’s 12-under 828 ties for the 14th best tournament total by score in program history
  *   Quentin Debove’s tie for 10th is a career-best finish

Florida’s Take

Head Coach JC Deacon

On getting his first win at the Gators Invitational…
“I’m just really happy for everyone that’s involved with the program. There are so many people whose life is to make this place great and make it special – and it is special – so to get a win for them and reward them for their hard work is awesome. There’s been something about this team. We’ve gone through a lot this year, it hasn’t all been pretty, but they’ve maintained their work ethic and even taken it up another notch. They’ve bought into the things we’ve talked about with their mental toughness, attitude, and confidence. It’s really, really nice to see it pay off, especially at home.”

On how play from the Sea Best Invitational carried over to this weekend…
“We really did play great last week at the Sea Best and Ricky (Castillo) is kind of setting the new standard for our team. It helps when you have a thoroughbred like that who’s running away with golf tournaments and pushes everyone else to be better. There’s a pretty big gap that he won this tournament by, and I know that’s going to light a fire under all the other guys. But yeah, we’ve been playing really well and it’s the hard work paying off, no doubt.”

Ricky Castillo, Freshman

On winning his second collegiate individual title…
“It was really special. Winning here, on your home track in front of a bunch of fans is pretty cool. I played really well all week, just the second round I got something going, made a few putts and then just didn’t stop … Today my goal was to win the tournament and not give anybody else a chance, and that’s what I did.”

On how playing well at the Sea Best Invitational gave him confidence…
“This is our home track, we play here every day, so I knew that we had an advantage. I know some spots that other people may not know and I know the reads on the greens a little better, so I just had more confidence than I’ve ever had.”

Up Next

The Gators travel to Last Vegas, Nev., for the Southern Highlands Collegiate. The three-day tournament is hosted by head coach JC Deacon’s alma mater, UNLV, and is scheduled to run from Sunday, March 1 to Tuesday, March 3.