SIX BITS: Masters, Zunino, baseball, Elam, Horford

By Adam Silverstein
April 10, 2013

1 » A pair of Florida Gators will be competing at the 2013 Masters this week at Augusta National Golf Club, one of whom is a current University of Florida student and a member of the school’s golf team. Senior T.J. Vogel, a 22-year old amateur, will be playing in his first ever major and has decided to properly take in the moment. Over the weekend, he and his caddie arranged his schedule so he could “bump” into Tiger Woods during an early-morning tee time. “I basically ran into him and we talked for a few minutes,” he said according to the Orlando Sentinel. Vogel has been playing at Augusta as much as possible in preparation for the Masters and will get his big opportunity starting on Thursday. He will be joined in Augusta by former Gators golfer Brian Gay, who has played as a professional since 1994 and has four PGA Tour wins but has never finished better than 20th in a major (2008 PGA Championship).

2 » Former Florida catcher Mike Zunino, the highest-drafted baseball player in school history (No. 3 in the 2012 MLB Draft), is breaking out in a major way while playing minor league baseball for the Seattle Mariners. Currently assigned to the Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A), Zunino is simply crushing the ball. On Tuesday night, Zunino smacked a grand slam and has now hit a homer in three-straight games. He has hit four home runs in five games and boasts a MiLB-high 16 RBI while batting .429 and slugging an absurd 1.238 with an on-base percentage of 1.696.

Read four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!

3 » Gators baseball (16-18) inched one game closer to .500 on Tuesday when it used a late run to top the No. 7 Florida State Seminoles (27-6) for the first time this season. Florida avoided the season sweep by fighting back every time its in-state rivals scored a run in their home stadium in Tallahassee, FL. Trailing 1-0 after the first, the Gators scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the third to even things up and jumped ahead 2-1 in the top of the fifth when Martin hit a two-out double to score Dent from second. The Seminoles took the lead back by scoring runs in the fifth and sixth, but UF answered immediately in the top of the seventh thanks to a bit of luck. Freshman outfielder Harrison Bader, who hit a one-out single to get on, stole second with two outs, advanced to third on a throwing error and then scored an unearned run on a passed ball. All tied up at 3-3, Florida had one more chance in the ninth and came through. Bader (2/4, 3 R) got some more good luck to lead off the inning, reaching base on a throwing error, advancing to second and moving to third on a failed pick-off attempt. Sophomore second baseman Josh Tobias (0/1, RBI) scored him immediately with a sacrifice fly and junior left-handed pitcher Daniel Gibson (2.0 IP, BB, K) came back on in the bottom frame to force three-straight outs and earn his first win of the season.

4 » Josh Evans is not the only Gators safety that has a crazy week of NFL meetings ahead. According to Scout.com’s Aaron Wilson, S Matt Elam has already visited Carolina and Indianapolis this week and also has visits set with Tennessee (Wednesday), Cincinnati (Thursday) and the New York Jets later in the week. Elam has already held private workouts with Carolina, Atlanta and Kansas City and has met one-on-ones with Pittsburgh and San Francisco. He is also scheduled to sit down face-to-face with Miami. Elam wrote on Twitter last week that he received a phone call from the Dolphins that was a dream come true. Growing up in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Elam was a fan of Miami and has always dreamed about playing for his local team.

5 » Former Florida players point guard Nick Calathes (PBC Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar – Krasnodar, Russia) and guard Walter Hodge (Basket Zielona Góra – Zielona Góra, Poland) were both named to All-Eurocup teams this week. Calathes received first-team honors while Hodge, his former teammate at UF, was placed on the second team. Calathes, who is averaging 13.1 points and 6.7 assists in 33.6 minutes per game and has led his team to the finals, is also eligible for the Most Valuable Player award. Hodge averaged 21.1 points and 5.6 assists in the Eurocup for his squad.

6 » Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford was recently featured on NBATV to talk about a charity event and demonstrate big man passing with the host and analysts on set. Check out the nearly 10-minute interview by clicking here. Horford was praised extensively by analyst Steve Smith, who believes he could score more if he was not playing out of position but rather at power forward. He also spoke about having to watch his brother play against Florida in the Elite Eight. “It was breaking my heart, man. I had to go with my brother. But it was one of those things that it was just hard to see. I was nervous the whole game. I never get nervous for games that I play in, but I was nervous for that game.,” he said.

9 Comments

  1. Tractorr says:

    Wow, way to go Hodge! Absolutely the most undervalued Florida basketball player IMO.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Good deal for Calathes, Hodge, and Elam. Wishing you boys all the best!! GO GATORS!!!

    • gatorboi352 says:

      I will never understand what made Calathes bolt after 2 seasons, and to the Euro league at that especially considering the way Parsons flourished in his 3rd and 4th years. Kevin Brockway also will not answer me on Twitter whenever I ask.

      • He had a great opportunity overseas and took it. I think it was probably the right move.

      • Royce says:

        It’s really pretty simple. He got 3 years at 1.1 mil and a house. He knew he wasn’t ever going to be a first rounder. So faced with 3.3 mil or no guarented contract as an NBA player, he took the money while he could. Maybe that money would have been there after 4 years but why risk it?

        Even if he could have snuck into the late late first round he would have had to be drafted top 20 to make the same money and a rookie contract is only a two year lock.

        • gatorboi352 says:

          Dude was the best passer since Steve Nash. 4 Years under Billy and that kid would have been a top 10 pick. 3.3 million? Definitely plus. Living in Not America? Pretty much negates that! To each their own, some folks only see the “short cheese”.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    What Criteria did T.J. meet to get to play in the Masters? He didn’t win the U.S. Amateur or the NCAA Individual

    • He won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        oh wow, i thought he lost earlier. Is the Links championship different than the Standard Amateur that Tiger won 3 straight years? I don’t follow golf that closely but I thought i had seen him fade at the end like Horschel did a couple of years ago

Top