Medalist Biondi Wins Clinching Point as Florida Claims NCAA Title

May 31, 2023 | 7 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Fred Biondi was not what you would have called a prize recruit when he arrived on the University of Florida campus in the fall of 2019.  But he promised the Gators' head golf coach, J.C. Deacon, that he would "work as hard as I could and try to bring him a ring or two."

It wasn't until his junior year that Biondi became a regular in the Florida lineup. But he was in the lineup again this season as a senior, and on Wednesday he fulfilled his pledge to Deacon as he secured the winning point in the 2023 NCAA Division I title match with a 1-up victory over Georgia Tech's Hiroshi Tai. The official score was Florida 3, Georgia Tech 1. Ricky Castillo, who had been the hero of a come-from-behind 3-2 triumph over Florida State in the semifinals, might have been the hero again, had it not been for Biondi.

Castillo had come from behind to beat Flordia State's Brett Roberts in 21 holes Tuesday afternoon, and thus claimed the winning point in that match. On Wednesday, he trailed after 15 holes but won the 16th and 17th and was 1 up -- and  in the fairway on 18. But that was when Biondi, who had gone 1 up over Tai with a birdie at the 17th, lagged a 25-foot birdie putt to within concession range at the 18th.

The win against Tai concluded an almost perfect NCAA tournament for Biondi, who had come from five behind in the fourth round to claim medalist honors in the stroke-play portion of the championships. There was, however,  one non-highlight during the week. He lost  6&5 to Bryan Lee in the second-seeded Gators' 3-2 victory over seventh-seeded Virginia on Tuesday morning in the quarterfinals. But Biondi got on track again with a 1-up win over Florida State's Cole Anderson a few hours later in the semis.

This was Florida's fifth NCAA golf championship, but the first since 2001. 

The darkest hour for the Gators came in the semis against Florida State. Florida trailed 2-0 and was down in other matches, before Biondi squeaked out his point against Anderson, and John DuBois also won 1 up, over Luke Clanton -- and Castillo flipped his match against Roberts and won on the third extra hole.

On Wednesday, Yuxin Lin gave Florida a quick point, winning 4&3 over Tech's Christoi Lamprecht. But Georgia Tech led early in three of the other four matches.The Gators'  Matthew Kress came back to tie his match against Bartley Forrester, but ended up losing on the 20th hole. DuBois was 1 down after 14 holes, but pulled even by winniing the 15th and won the 520-yard, par-4 18th to claim a 1-up victory and give Florida its second point, thereby setting the stage for Biondi.

It was Georgia Tech that had eliminated Pepperdine, 3-2 in the quarterfinals. The Waves took an early lead, thanks to Sam Choi, who beat Connor Howe 2&1. Derek Hitchner, a Pepperdine grad student -- and the 2021 Minnesota State Amateur champion -- lost the first hole to Lamprecht's birdie, but then birdied the next three holes himself and went on to win 4&3, which made it 2-0 for Pepperdine. But Tech got the last three points, including a 19-hole victory by Tai over Roberto Nieves.

Nevertheless, it was a good week for Hitchner, as he capped off his college career. The former state Class AA  high school champ from Blake  tied for 11th individually in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, and moved up from No. 17 to No. 14 in the PGA Tour University Rankiings. As a result, he will be fully exempt for the PGA Tour Canada when he turns pro, as he is expecdted to do in the very near future.      

NCAA Division I Men's Championships

At Grayhawk Golf Club

Par 70, 7,289 yards

Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Match Play


(1) North Carolina 3, (8) Arizona State 1

(5) Georgia Tech 3, (4) Pepperdine 2

S. Choi (P) def. C. Howe 2&1

Derek Hitchner (P) def. C. Lamprecht 4&3

B. Forrester (GT) def. L. Gifford 2&1

H. Tai, (GT) def. R. Nieves 19 holes

R. Steelman (GT) def. W. Mouw 5&4

(2) Florida 3, (7) Virginia 2

(6) Florida State 3, (3) Illinois 2


Florida 3, Florida State 2

Georgia Tech 3, North Carolina 2


Florida 3, Georgia Tech 1

Y. Lin, Fla, def. C. Lamprecht 4&3

B. Forrester, GT, def. M. Kress 20 holes

J. DuBois, Fla.,  def. C. Howe 1 up

Fred Biondi, Fla., def. H. Tai 1 up

R. Castillo, Fla., led R. Steelman 1 up through 17

Final results -- Stroke Play

1. North Carolina       282-284-275-273--1114

T2. Florida                 283-278-278-279--1118

T2. Illinois                  285-273-276-284--1118

4. Pepperdine           281-287-269-283--1123

T5. Georgia Tech       280-286-276-284--1126
T5. Florida State        284-287-282-273--1126

7. Virginia                   290-281-283-277--1131

8. Arizona State         291-281-279--281--1132 (won two-hole playoff to claim the last spot for match play)

Did not qualify for match play

9. Stanford                 290-286-274-282--1132

10. Auburn                  288-286-282-282--1138

T11. Vanderbilt          282-288-283--853

T11. Alabama            290-282-289-280--1141

13. Texas A&M           289-285-283-287--1144

14. Georgia                285-291-288-285--1149

15. Ohio State            287-295-284-294--1160 

Did not make cut

T25. New Mexico       293-296-291--880 


1. Fred Biondi, Florida                               69-68-69-67--273 (minus 7)

T2. Ross Steelman, Georgia Tech            64-69-68-73--274

T2. Jackson Buchanan, Illinois                 71-68-68-67--274

T4. Dylan Menante, North Carolina          68-70-67-70--275

T4. Barclay Brown, Stanford.                    68-71-67-69--275

6. Ben James, Virginia                              71-68-69-68--276

T7. Tommy Kuhl, Illinois                            72-69-67-71--279

T7. A. Dumont de Chassar, Illiinois           68-68-70-73--279

T7. Brett Roberts, Florida State                69-73-70-67--279

T7. Sam Choi, Pepperdine                      70-72-67-70--279

T11. Derek Hitchner, Pepperdine          73-73-65-69--280

T11. Nick Dunlap, Alabama                      74-68-66-72--280

T11. Luke Gofford, Pepperdine.                70-71-67-72--280

T11. Phichaksn Maichon, Texas A&M.      72-72-68-68--280

T11. Austin Greaser, North Carolina.         71-74-69-66--280

T11. Ricky Castillo, Florida                         71-68-70-71--280

T11. Matthew Anderson, San Francisco     68-71-70-71--280

T29. Ludvig Aberg, Texas Tech                   69-73-69-73--284 (No. 1 in PGA Tour University Rankings)

T40. Gordon Sargent, Vanderbilt                 71-73-73-69--286   (defending champion)

T74. Sam Bennett, Texas A&M                   75-74-71-75--295 (2022 U.S. Amateur, low amateur in 2023 Masters)

Missed cut

T111. Carson Herron, New Mexico   77-74-72--223

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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