4 BITS: Horschel, U.S. Open, Spikes, Grossman

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel (-11) is in contention at the Deutsche Bank Championship, one stroke back of leader Russell Henley (-12) with the event’s final round set to begin Monday afternoon. Horschel and Henley will tee off at 1:55 p.m. as the final pairing but will also face stiff competition from Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Chris Kirk, all of whom are just two shots back at -10. Horschel’s best finish this season has been sixth (twice, most recently at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June). He’s looking for his first tournament victory since 2013 when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel has already earned $1.3 million this season. Former Gators golfers Camilo Villegas and Matt Every also made the initial cut at the Deutsche Bank, but Villegas is at the back of the pack and Every got cut after shooting an 86 in the third round.

2 » Florida freshman tennis player Brooke Austin is competing in the junior’s bracket of 2014 U.S. Open, facing Evgeniya Levashova in opening-round action. The match is suspended, as of press time, with Austin up 4-1 in the second set after falling 6-0 to Levashova in the first. Former Gators star Lisa Raymond, also participated this year, teaming with fellow American Vania King in the women’s doubles draw. Pushing past opponents in the first two rounds, Raymond/King fell 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-2 to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia on Monday. The oldest woman to ever win a Grand Slam doubles title (back in 2011 at age 38 with partner Liezel Huber), Raymond has won nearly $10 million in her career with 15 Grand Slam doubles titles and a bronze medal in mixed doubles from the 2012 London Olympics.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Horschel, U.S. Open, Spikes, Grossman

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FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title over the weekend when he won the 2014 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took home a winning share of $954,000. Villegas, who had not won an event since finishing first at the 2010 Honda Classic four years ago, edged Bill Hass and Freddie Jackson by a single stroke with a -17 on the tournament. He opened and closed the event by shooting 63 on Thursday and Sunday. Villegas jumped up to 37th in the new FedExCup standings, moving up 68 spots from No. 105. He is the second former Gators golfer to win on tour this year as Matt Every picked up a victory in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational back on March 23. Every is currently ranked 35th in the FedExCup.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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4 BITS: SEC Network, Horschel, Smith, Calathes

1 » With just six weeks to go until the launch of the SEC Network, there are still plenty of cable and satellite companies that have not come to an agreement on terms with ESPN to carry the channel. However, according to FOXSports.com, Comcast appears to be the next in line to make a deal with the World Wide Leader in Sports. Company spokesman John Demming claims that Comcast and ESPN are “working out final details” for the network with an agreement expected to be announced “in the near future.” Currently, the SEC Network is only scheduled to go live on AT&T Uverse, DISH Network and Google fiber. DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are the other major entities that have not agreed with ESPN, though Comcast’s agreement to purchase TWC for $45 billion will likely make that contract signing easier. (Same with AT&T attempting to acquire DirecTV in a similar deal.) Smaller cable companies are expected to come to terms to carry the channel once the larger deals are struck. Florida Gators fans concerned about whether Cox Communications will have the station should take solace in the fact that it would be bad business and public relations for the SEC Network to go live without fans of one of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference able to watch it.


The SEC Network on Monday also announced that 10-year veteran anchor Dari Nowkhah has reached a multi-year deal with ESPN an will host the station’s “weeknight news and information show,” called SEC Now. The new show will debut on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. [Pictures: Set renderings]

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: SEC Network, Horschel, Smith, Calathes

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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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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

1 » Speaking at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Michigan over the weekend, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer discussed lessons he learned from the military about teamwork and how it is so much more important to be a team than in individual in the sport of football. In doing so, he praised the 2008 national title-winning Florida Gators, stating for the second time in as many years that he thinks that group was the best team in college football history. “I’ve been a part of a couple great teams. I think the best team that’s ever played the game [was] in ’08. That was animal instincts [that] took over on the field; they protected each other,” he told the group. “Have you ever tried to reason with a wild animal? You never reason with a wild animal; they protect each other. Have you ever tried to negotiate, evaluate, take a play off? If you’re a wild animal, that doesn’t happen.” (Hat tip: Yahoo! Sports)

2 » Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis threw out the first pitch at Saturday’s home game for the Miami Marlins. Sturgis will enter his second NFL season in 2014 looking to hold down his starting job with the Dolphins. Though he flashed his signature strong leg and dead-on accuracy at times in 2013, Sturgis did go through his share of struggles, finishing 26/34 (.765) with seven field goals of 50+ yards.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

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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.”

Continue Reading » Buddy Alexander to retire after 27 years at Florida

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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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4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every on Sunday clinched his first-ever PGA Tour victory, winning the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL. Every, whose third-round 66 vaulted him into the lead, finished -13 for the tournament and edged Keegan Bradley by a single stroke. The victory results in him receiving earnings of $1.12 million (more than he has made in the rest of his career, combined), 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters in April. A native of Daytona Beach, FL, Every played at Bay Hill dozens of times throughout his life and long dreamed of winning a PGA Tour event at the course, which is located about an hour from where he grew up.

At Florida from 2003-06, Every was a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC selection. He is the second former Gators golfer to capture a PGA Tour event title in as many years after Billy Horschel won the 2013 Zurich Classic last April.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

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