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North Florida, freshman Nick Gabrelcik, pass a tough test with Sea Best Invitational wins

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The University of North Florida golf team keeps passing important tests early in the season.

Last week at the Timuquana Collegiate, the Ospreys proved they could come from behind in a birdie-fest, posting the low team score of the final round and tying for fourth, four shots out of a playoff with Florida and Liberty.

On Monday, UNF jumped out to a big lead in the first 36 holes of the Sea Best Invitational, under brutally cold conditions at the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley.

On Tuesday, the Ospreys proved they could play with the lead, and after a 19-shot spread at the turn dipped to nine shots over Liberty with four holes to play, Nick Gabrelcik, Nick Infanti and Cody Carroll all birdied the par-4 15th hole and UNF went on to win by 12 shots over Liberty and Duke at 21 over.

It was the Ospreys’ first team title since the 2019 ASUN Championship and the first time they have won the Sea Best, hosted by cross-town rival Jacksonville University.

Gabrelcik supplied the frosting on another cold, windy day when he shot 68 to win the individual championship at 3 under, one shot clear of Easton Paxton (72) of N.C. State and three shots over Adrien Pendaries of Duke (71).

“All three rounds were really hard and we knew, teeing off today, that pars were going to be good scores,” said UNF coach Scott Schroeder. “We played pretty steady. There were a few glitches at the end but generally speaking, it was pretty steady for everybody, which is all you really wanted.”

Gabrelcik, of Trinity, Florida, has tied for fourth and won in his first two college starts. When Paxton finished his round, Gabrelcik had seven holes left, and he played them bogey-free, at 2-under, with a 35-foot birdie putt at No. 12, a 4-footer at No. 15 and a testy two-putt for par from 60 feet at No. 17.

“I’m not going to lie … that was the time I was the most nervous, hoping to lag that putt up there close,” Gabrelcik said.

He cozied it up to 2 feet and tapped in.

Needing a par to win at the last, Gabrelcik split the fairway at No. 18, hit a pitching wedge to within 10 feet, and safely two-putted.

“I felt good going into this week but the conditions were very tough,” he said. “I’ve played when it’s been this cold before, and I’ve played when it’s been this windy, but never both at the same time. I just worked my ball around well.”

Rankings: Men’s team | Men’s individual
More: All the latest college news on the Road to Grayhawk

Gabrelcik became the first UNF individual champion since Jordan Batchelor in the 2019 ASUN Championship and the first freshman to win for the Ospreys since Joey Petronio at the 2012 Gary Koch Invitational at Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa.

UNF had four players among the top-23, with Infanti (72) finishing 13th at 9 over, Robbie Higgins (77) tying for 14th at 10 over and Cody Carroll (76) tying for 23rd at 12 over.

Campbell finished fourth at 42 over, N.C. State fifth at 44 over and Jacksonville and Charlotte tied for sixth at 45 over.

JU was led by a 10th-place finish by Michael Sakane (76) at 6 over. Joey Sullivan birdied three of his first five holes and matched Gabrelcik’s 68 to tie for 14th at 10 over.

The Ospreys’ quick start has come with only one senior in the starting lineup and without the benefit of a fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schroeder said there’s still room for improvement.

“I knew we had a chance to be pretty good but I didn’t know exactly how good we’d be,” he said. “We played pretty good but didn’t putt it great. We had 20 three-putts this week. If we can clean some of that stuff up, it’s going to be really fun this spring.”

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original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/03/north-florida-nick-gabrelcik-win-sea-best-invitational/

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