UF Men’s Golf: Gators Duo Set to Compete in 120th U.S. Open

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

Gators alum Billy Horschel and current sophomore Ricky Castillo look to make history at the 120th U.S. Open.

When the 120th U.S. Open begins tomorrow, Gators Golf alum Billy Horschel and current golfer Ricky Castillo will tee it up at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.

The U.S. Open is one of the most touted events in professional golf, joining the Masters, the PGA Championship and The Open Championship as the most prestigious annual tournaments.

Billy Horschel, who golfed at Florida from 2005 through 2009, will enter the tournament with seven years of U.S. Open experience under his belt. Boasting a scorecard in 2013 that saw him finish tied for fourth, the three-time first team All-American will attempt to secure his spot in U.S. Open history books alongside the champions. The Grant, Fla. native already made a name for himself in U.S. Open history after hitting all 18 greens in regulation, shooting a 67 (-3) in 2013. Horschel was a 2019 Florida Hall of Fame inductee and completed his college career as a two-time SEC Player of the Year (2007, 2009). His success in the college ranks carried over to his professional career where he has seen continued success, including five PGA TOUR wins and the 2014 FedEx Cup championship.

Ricky Castillo, a sophomore on the Gators roster, is one of 13 amateurs in the 144-player field who earned exemption into the tournament. The California native has already made a name for himself in the collegiate ranks, earning the 2020 NCAA Division I Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award, as well as SEC Freshman of the Year honors. The Ben Hogan Award Finalist continued his success this summer at the Western Amateur, competing his way into the semifinals for the second year in a row. Earning his exemption through the World Amateur Golf Rankings, where he is currently ranked 2nd, Castillo will make his U.S. Open debut.

The U.S. Open will be conducted without fans due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 72-hole stroke play format, used since 1898, will begin Thursday, Sept. 17 and continue throughout the weekend with a champion named on Sunday, Sept. 20. Cuts will be made following the second round to include the top 60 players and ties. This cut ranks among the strictest in a major tournament after removing the 10-shot rule in 2012.

Winged Foot Golf Club has a storied history of hosting championships, including five U.S. Opens, two U.S. Amateurs, the 1949 Walker Cup, and the 1997 PGA Championship. The West Course, designed by Albert W. Tillinghast in the early 1920s, requires the best mental and physical game a golfer has to offer. Only one score under par has been surrendered by this course in five previous U.S. Open tournaments.

Castillo will kick things off for the Gators on Thursday when he takes the course for a 7:01 a.m. ET tee time from the 10th hole. Horschel will begin on the 10th hole at 1:38 p.m. ET. On Friday, Horschel will get things started at 8:18 a.m. ET for Florida, while Castillo claims the lunchtime tee time of 12:21 p.m. ET.

Coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. ET on the Golf Channel and continue throughout the weekend.