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UF Men’s Golf: Trio of Gators Earn SEC Honors

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Ricky Castillo highlighted the group as SEC Freshman of the Year.

Three members of the Florida men’s golf team received Southeastern Conference honors, the league office announced Wednesday.

Ricky Castillo headlined the group as he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, earning a spot on both the All-SEC First Team and All-Freshman Team. Along with Castillo, junior John Axelsen also earned First Team honors, while redshirt sophomore Manny Girona was tabbed to the Community Service Team.

Castillo becomes the ninth player in program history to be selected as the SEC Freshman of the Year, and second under head coach JC Deacon.

In his inaugural collegiate season, Castillo was dominant. Over his 21 rounds played, Castillo posted the lowest single-season scoring average in program history at 70.08. Individually, he finished inside the top 25 at every event with all 21 of his rounds included in the UF’s counting scores.
Castillo opened the spring with back-to-back individual titles, claiming the crown at the Sea Best Invitational and VyStar Gators Invitational by a combined 11 strokes. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native then followed those performances with an impressive 5-under 211 at Southern Highlands Collegiate to tie for sixth. Through his nine rounds of the spring, Castillo shot a collective 26 under with a scoring average of 67.78.
Castillo’s conference honors follow his selection as the Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award Recipient, Ben Hogan Award Finalist, NCAA Division I PING All-Southeast Region honors and NCAA Division I PING First Team All-American.

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In his junior season, Axelsen provided a consistent and reliable presence for the Gators. Through seven events, the junior notched six top-15 finishes, including three top-three performances. Sixteen of Axelsen’s 21 rounds were either even or under par, with eight in the 60s. He finished five tournaments under par with his best performance coming at the Sea Best Invitational at 5 under to take second. Those numbers put his adjusted scoring average at 70.22 and allowed him to finish the season as the No. 7 collegiate player in Golfstat’s Division I player rankings.

In addition to his end-of-season conference accolades, Axelsen was also named to the 2020 NCAA Division I PING All-America First Team, to the 2020 PING All-Region Team and to the Haskins Award Final Watch List.

For the second consecutive year, Girona’s contributions off the course earned him a spot on the SEC Community Team.

This season, Girona was earned the Pete Fox Award, given to the Florida men’s golfer who exemplifies how Florida alumnus Pete Fox lived his life – with selflessness, generosity, character and an understanding of the value of every day. Additionally, Girona was heavily involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and also participated in Climb for Cancer, a foundation that works to improve the mental, physical, and social well-being of cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers.

Girona competed in three events for the Gators during the 2019-20 season, appearing in the lineup once. Over nine rounds played, the Windermere, Fla., native recorded a scoring average of 76.