Florida Gator Fred Biondi came from five shots behind to capture the individual title for the 2023 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. Finishing at -7, he was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, posting six birdies, a bogey and a dreaded double bogey on his way to a final round 3-under 67.
“I remember the first time I saw a leaderboard was on six, and I was little back and then I doubled seven,” Biondi said. “From (holes) 7 to 14, I had no idea, and then on 15 tee I asked what the leaderboard was at, and I was one back. I knew I had a chance. There was a big screen right behind 15, and I saw that I was tied for the lead there. When I was sitting on 17 there was a long wait and I peeked and saw (Ross Steelman) made five, so I just knew I had to par out. That’s why I laid up on 17.”
After correcting a scoring typo, Illinois’ Jackson Buchanan had a chance to tie the lead with a birdie on the last hole. He fell shot after hitting an amazing approach from a fairway bunker to slide into a tie for second place at -6 for the championship. Moving up five spots on the day (-3, 67), his runner-up is the third-best individual NCAA Championship finish in program history, behind Scott Langley and Thomas Pieters, 2010 and 2012 champions, respectively.
“It was an awesome day,” said Illinois head coach Mike Small. “He handled himself like a veteran, with maturity. He rolled the good times and got rid of the bad times during the round. I was very, very impressed and proud of him.”
Joining Buchanan at T2, the 54-hole leader, Ross Steelman, just could not get anything going on the day, shooting 3-over 73. At one point on the back nine, the senior from Columbia, Mo. stood at 9-under par for the championship, leading by as many as four shots.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, but we came here to win the team championship, and that’s what we’re going to try and do,” Steelman said. “We go out and try and beat the person right in front of you, do that three times, and win the national championship.”
Stanford’s Barclay Brown and North Carolina’s Dylan Menate finished T4 at -5, two strokes off the championship pace.