Billy Horschel: ‘I love representing Gator Nation.’

Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel capped the best three weeks of his young career – and life – last month when he won the 2014 Tour Championship, brought home a total of $11.44 million by clinching the 2014 FedExCup title and, most importantly, was in the delivery room when his wife gave birth to their first child.

Playing the three best weeks of golf as a professional, Horschel first pocketed $2.03 million by winning the 2014 BMW Championship and finishing second in the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship. Adding his Tour crown and FedExCup bonus, Horschel boosted his payday to $13.47 million in a three-week span and $14.8 million for the PGA Tour season.

Despite his hot streak, Horschel was not chosen to play for the United States in the 2014 Ryder Cup due to his success occurring too late in the process. Instead, he was able to spend more time at home at his recently-expanded family.

Two days after Horschel set up his family for life, his wife and fellow former Florida golfer, Brittany Horschel, gave birth to baby Skyler on Sept. 16.

Quite a month, huh?

OnlyGators.com got a unique opportunity to speak with Horschel this week as he prepares for the 2014-15 golf season. One of the hottest names in the sport, Horschel was not an easy get considering he is one of the hottest names in the sport. Nevertheless, the PGA Tour was more than accommodating.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s start with what’s important: how are the wife and baby?
BILLY HORSCHEL: “Skyler and Brittany are doing really great. They’re both healthy. Brittany is loving being a mom. She’s doing a heck of a job. We’ve been very blessed in the sense that Skyler has been a very, very easy baby. She sleeps well, doesn’t fuss a lot. If you could sort draw up the ideal baby – in the way for her to act for the parents to not go crazy – in my opinion, this would be it. We’ve been very blessed and very lucky.”

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Florida hires J.C. Deacon as men’s golf coach

Less than two months after men’s golf coach Buddy Alexander announced his retirement following 27 years on the job, the Florida Gators found his replacement in UNLV Rebels assistant coach J.C. Deacon.

An assistant with the program from 2011-14, Deacon, 31, rejoined his alma mater six years after concluding his career as a student-athlete (2001-05). He helped lead UNLV to the 2002 Mountain West Championship. Deacon then spent nearly seven years playing professionally, winning two titles in his career and working on PGA Tour Canada from 2007-10, before getting into coaching.

Deacon becomes the 15th men’s golf coach in program history at Florida, stepping in for the exceedingly accomplished Alexander, a three-time GCCA National Coach of the Year and eight-time SEC Coach of the Year who won two national titles (1993, 2011) and eight SEC crowns (1989, 1991-94, 1999, 2003, 2011) with the Gators.

“When I finally had the chance to sit down with J.C. Deacon, everything I had been hearing over and over about him was apparent. There is much to offer with our storied golf program and J.C. will bring that message to the golf community,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in the school’s announcement.

Continue Reading » Florida hires J.C. Deacon as men’s golf coach

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Buddy Alexander to retire after 27 years at Florida

The second-longest-tenured head coach in school history, Buddy Alexander has decided to retire after nearly three decades at the helm of the highly-successful Florida Gators’s men’s golf program.

Alexander, who will coach out his 27th and final season with the team, has led Florida to two national titles (1993, 2001), 11 top-10 finishes in the NCAA Championships and eight SEC Championships (1989, 1991-94, 1999, 2003, 2011). He is also a three-time GCAA National Coach of the Year and eight-time SEC Coach of the Year who was inducted into the GCAA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001.

In short, Alexander is Gators golf.

“He’s one of the all-time greats,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told Scott Carter of the school’s website as part of Alexander’s retirement announcement. “He’s had a heck of a run. There’s no better Gator than Buddy Alexander.”

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SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

1 » Already in the midst of a Most Valuable Player-caliber campaign, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah on Wednesday became just the fourth center in NBA history to record four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. The other three? Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson and Bill Russell. Noah, whose final line was 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, has led the Bulls to a 46-32 record despite the fact that Chicago has been without star point guard Derek Rose nearly the entire season. The “point-center,” who leads his team with 5.2 assists per game, achieved double-digit dimes for the seventh time and also became the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season. For comparison’s sake, Noah posted just three triple-doubles and two double-digit assists games – combined – during his first six years. Additionally, Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale just last month said Noah “should be the defensive player of the year.” Check out this extensive feature on Noah from USA Today.

2 » A pair of former Florida Gators golfers will compete in The Masters for the first time in their careers as Billy Horschel and Matt Every will be teeing it up at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA over the next 2-4 days. Horschel, who finished sixth in the 2013 FedExCup standings with one win and seven top 10 finishes in 22 events, won the Zurich Classic exactly one year ago. Every, via his first career PGA Tour win just over two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is currently ranked eighth in the FedExCup. The golfers will open the first round teeing off back-to-back – Horschel at 8:51 a.m., Every at 9:02 a.m. – while former Florida golfer Andy North will be on the call for ESPN during the first two days of the event on Thursday and Friday.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

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FOUR BITS: Lee hurt, Moss cut, golf, swimming

1 » Just one week ago, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee knocked out New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler’s tooth during a game. When Lee’s elbow hit Chandler’s face, it was deeply punctured by the tooth, which was then removed by force. Lee was only expected to be out of action a few days to let the deep wound heal properly, but he has no missed a week and has yet to return to the court. In fact, Lee has been hospitalized most of the time due to a massive infection and serious swelling that occurred in the area. He has already undergone two procedures to clean the infection and may mess two-to-three more weeks as he tries to recover. “I know there is a lot of speculation out there, but it almost doesn’t matter how it was treated,” Dr. Bill Maloney told the media on Wednesday. “I don’t think they could have avoided this. The die was cast when he got the tooth through the skin with a deep enough puncture wound to allow the bacteria to get in there.” The infection may need to be “washed out” four or five more times before Lee can leave the hospital, which the team hopes will occur by week’s end.

2 » In a move many fans of the team have expected to come for quite some time, the Denver Broncos have released the No. 17 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, defensive end/outside linebacker Jarvis Moss. Since being drafted by Denver, Moss has totaled 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 33 games; however, he has only registered five tackles and has not notched a single sack in 16 games since the start of last year. When head coach Josh McDaniels took over in 2009, he began utilizing a 3-4 defense and moved Moss from DE to OLB. Unfortunately for the former Florida Gators star, the change in position did not help his production. “He’s been a great kid for us, done everything we asked him to do. It just hasn’t been a perfect fit,” McDaniels said. “Hopefully he can find a place that will be a better fit and suits what [he] can do.”

Read about Florida’s big-time signees in golf and swimming…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Lee hurt, Moss cut, golf, swimming

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SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

1 » Advancing to the 2010 NCAA Tournament semifinals for the 20th time in the last 24 years, the No. 3 Florida Gators women’s tennis team (28-2) swept the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (20-6) 4-0 on Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 5 doubles pair of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will defeated the No. 6 Miami pairing 7-6 DNF; both No. 65 Boonstra and No. 8 Will also won their singles matches. No. 9 freshman Lauren Embree was impressive in her victory over No. 7 Laura Vallverdu, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. Florida will face no. 2 North Carolina (30-4) on Monday at 1 p.m. for a chance to advance to the championship game.

2 » As if the media’s obsession with Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow had not previously reached a peak – it has now. ESPN.com has just unveiled a “Tim Tebow Tracker” for its unique Tebow Watch page. It is not yet filled with much content (mostly things you have read elsewhere – cough, cough), but as the offseason progresses it should get filled up quite nicely. You can check it out by clicking here.

Four more BITS on the SEC commissioner’s contract, a honor for Emmitt Smith, golf advancing and baseball losing its regular season finale…after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

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Poll Reviews: FIU/FSU MVP, most important

Over the past two weeks, OGGOA asked you to participate in three polls. The first two determined your Most Valuable Players for the Florid International Golden Panthers and Florida State Seminoles games, while the third determined which administrator was most important to University of Florida athletics. An OGGOA-record total of 875 combined votes (292 average) were cast, and the results are in:

Who was your Florida Gators MVP vs. FIU?
QB Tim Tebow (50%, 92 votes)
QB John Brantley (25%, 47 votes)
RB Chris Rainey (13%, 25 votes)
LB Brandon Spikes (12%, 22 votes)

Who was your Florida Gators MVP vs. FSU?
QB Tim Tebow (77%, 203 votes)
TE Aaron Hernandez (21%, 55 votes)
LB Brandon Hicks (1%, 4 votes)
RB Jeff Demps (1%, 3 votes)

Tebow’s third and fourth OGGOA MVP honors came in back-to-back weeks for the first time all season. His previous victories were against Georgia and Arkansas. Both victories are well-deserved, especially the Florida State one seeing as Tebow put up five touchdowns and had his best performance of the season.

Who has done more for the Florida Gators?
AD Jeremy Foley (39%, 166 votes)
HC Steve Spurrier (32%, 135 votes)
HC Urban Meyer (27%, 114 votes)
HC Billy Donovan (2%, 9 votes)

Reviewing the results of this poll, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the respect and appreciation for what Foley has done for UF’s athletic program is wide-spread. Often times, fans look at the coaches and players and do not know who is really taking care of things behind the scenes. Though I do not need to convince you to vote for Foley, this is just a taste of what he has done since becoming the athletic director in 1992. He hired Meyer, Donovan, Becky Burleigh (soccer), Tim Walton (softball) while retaining Buddy Alexander (men’s golf) and Mary Wise (volleyball) and helping the Gators finish as the top-ranked overall program in the Southeastern Conference in 15 of his 16 years.

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