Notebook: Vogel frustrated by latest performance

T.J. Vogel

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He must of played the course hundreds of times, but T.J. Vogel’s last competitive round on Mark Bostick Golf Course as a Gator might have been one of the most disappointing.

Vogel, a senior who earned second-team All-American honors last season, shot 4-over 74 to wrap up a 6-over 216 and finish T-25 at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla.

“It’s really frustrating because this was my last tournament here and I wanted to get a victory, both team and individually,” Vogel said. “But I guess it wasn’t in the cards.”

It’s been a rough past couple months for Vogel, who had missed practiced all week leading up to the tournament due to the flu. He also is still recovering from surgery in December to repair three hernias and an adductor release to help eliminate his groin pain.

“It’s something that I’ve had for a while,” Vogel said. “It was just time. I couldn’t practice during the offseason because I was in so much pain, so I wanted to get to the bottom of it.”

Now Vogel must get to the bottom of his game. He didn’t look like the player he was when he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links, 12 and 10, over former North Florida player Kevin Aylwin last summer. He made four bogeys in his first five holes in Sunday’s final round.

The frustration mounted on No. 9, when he three-putted for bogey before releasing his anger vocally. By the time he got to No. 18, he looked as if he just wanted the round to be over with. He missed the green about 25 yards long on his appraoch, his ball coming to rest just off the edge of the cart path. He took a drop and got up-and-down for bogey before walking off in obvious discomfort.

“I wanted to play for my team, so I gave it a go,” Vogel said. “Obviously coming into the tournament, even being real sick, you still have a good feeling. Once I got out there, when things aren’t going your way, you’re not hitting well and you’re not putting well, it’s tough.”

Florida finished fourth as a team, 19 shots behind champion Florida State. The Gators had won their host tournament every year since 2003 before falling to Auburn last season. Vogel’s total was the sixth-best on the team in its spring opener after leading the Gators with a 72.2 scoring average in 15 rounds during the fall. Florida won the Invitational at the Ocean Course and added runner-up finishes at Olympia Fields and the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate last fall.

Once healthy, expect Vogel to return to form. He won the SeaBest Invitational and the Charleston Shootout as a junior after transferring from USC after his sophomore season. He had seven other top-10 finishes in 2012, including a runner-up finish at last year’s Gator Invitational.

Florida will obviously need a healthy Vogel this spring, but Vogel’s urgency to get healthy is also being fueled by his need to be at full strength in time for April’s Masters. Vogel earned a spot in the field thanks to his Public Links victory.

“I’m definitely going to try and keep my head focused,” Vogel said. “Obviously I’m looking forward to it, but I know I have a lot of business to handle here. My main focus is to get healthy and to start feeling good again because I haven’t felt good in a few weeks.”

• • •

HE’S BACK: In a perfect world, Sean Dale would be playing on the PGA Tour right now.

Dale skipped the fall of his senior season at North Florida in order to make a run at a PGA Tour card through Q-School. But Dale failed to earn his card after being eliminated in the second stage, meaning Dale would return to school and rejoin the Ospreys squad in the spring.

Dale stepped right back into his No. 1 spot in North Florida’s lineup at the Gator Invitational and finished T-5, six shots behind winner Daniel Berger of Florida State. His performance helped the Ospreys finish second as a team, 15 shots behind the Seminoles.

“I played well, it’s just the greens were in some tough conditions and it was hard to make putts out there,” Dale said. “I really didn’t make anything all week and missed a ton of short putts. If I could’ve seen some of those fall, I could’ve given Berger a better run. But it feels good to play well in my first tournament back.”

Dale fractured his left ring finger four days before he was scheduled to leave for his PGA Tour Q-School pre-qualifier in Spring, Texas, last September. Dale ended up finishing T-11 to advance to the first stage. He would make it to the second stage before bowing out with a T-45 finish in McKinney, Texas.

He’s “100 percent” healthy, though, and is excited to get things going this spring.

North Florida has advanced to the NCAA Championship two out of the past three seasons and has finished a combined seven shots from advancing to match play. With Dale, a two-time All-American who won the Jones Cup earlier this month, and M.J. McGuire, who was T-3 at the Gator, the Ospreys have the talent at the top to make another run at the NCAA Championship.

“Riding down in the van this week, it’s good to be back with all the guys,” Dale said. “It’s a special group. We have a lot of talent. Hopefully at the end of the year we can put something special together.”

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: Grayson Murray’s first tournament with East Carolina was a success, as the Wake Forest freshman transfer shot 6-over 222 to finish T-6 at the SeaBest Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. East Carolina finish fourth as a team, 2 shots behind champion Tennessee. Murray transferred from Wake last winter after just one semester with the Demon Deacons. Murray, who as a junior advanced to match play at the U.S. Junior from 2009-11, played in three tournaments during the fall for Wake with his best finish coming at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, where he finished T-8. . . . Florida State’s victory at the Gator Invitational was its first team title since the Florida Atlantic Intercollegiate last March and its first Gator Invitational title since 1981, when Paul Azinger won medalist honors for the Seminoles. . . . UCLA’s playoff victory over Washington at the Amer Ari Invitational in Kohala Coast, Hawaii, was the Bruins’ second team title of the season. UCLA won the Gifford Collegiate last November. . . . Oregon State may have finished 14th in Hawaii, but David Fink notched his second straight T-2 finish, shooting 9-under 207 (68-70-69).

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