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June 17, 2013
6/17 Orange & Blue News
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators golfer Billy Horschel put together a great showing in his second career major, finishing in a four-way tie for fourth place at +5 for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. For his efforts, Horschel won $291,406 and registered 120 FedEx Cup points. He has now earned nearly $3 million on the season and sits at fifth in the FedEx Cup standings behind Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson. Horschel had one of the best rounds of the event on Friday when he shot a three-under 67 while hitting all 18 greens in regulation, the first time that has happened at the U.S. Open since the statistic began being recorded 20 years ago. Horschel is just getting started in his PGA Tour career and is already turning heads with his top-notch play.
Another former Florida student-athlete had a big weekend as striker Abby Wambach netted her 156th career international goal for the U.S. Women's National Team. Wambach, who scored a penalty kick in stoppage time on Saturday as the United States took down Korea Republic 4-1 in a friendly, now stands just two goals behind Mia Hamm, whose 158 career international goals are a worldwide record for either gender. Wambach will look to close the gap even further on Thursday as the Americans take on the Koreans in another friendly.
Tim Tebow the baseball player? WEEI 93.7 FM over the weekend spoke to former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim scout Tom Kotchman, who explained that Tebow was nearly drafted by the Angels out of high school. "We wanted to draft him," Kotchman said, "but he never sent back his information card. … Who knows if it got to him, and if it did we just never got it back. Otherwise we were going to take him." Tebow was seen as a potential Round 7-12 draft pick who could develop all six tools but already had great left-handed power. He can hit the ball out of the park with little effort and looked like a big-time slugger as a high schooler. "It was just easy for him," said Boston Red Sox scout Stephen Hargett. "You thought, 'If this guy dedicated everything to baseball like he did to football, how good could he be?'"
On the topic of mashers, the Seattle Mariners called rookie catcher Mike Zunino up to the majors this week and the slugger registered his first career home run in just his second MLB start on Friday. Zunino's bomb broke a 1-1 tie and contributed to Seattle's eventual 3-2 victory. "It's awesome," Zunino said after the game. "I'm just happy it could come at a time like that to help the team out. The bigger part was getting the W. That was my first one, too." The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Zunino is in the majors just one year after being selected by the Mariners. He was called up as an injury replacement and could be headed back down in two weeks but may also stick with the team for the rest of the season. Zunino has also impressed Seattle defensively thus far during his stay with the team.
Relieved to at least make the first cut, Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier was named one of 16 finalists to earn one of 12 spots on the final USA Basketball under-19 team that will compete in the 2013 FIBA World Championship over the next month. The U19 team, led by head coach Billy Donovan, will announce its final roster on Wednesday after Donovan has the opportunity to run the remaining 16 players for a few more days. Frazier started the tryout as one of 26 players but obviously proved that his three-point shooting can benefit the Americans greatly. Odds are that he will make the team when all is said and done. "We'll learn a lot more in the next three practices; we'll see how well guys pick up certain things; how the chemistry is; the way they bond, the way they connect," Donovan said in a USA Basketball-released statement. "I think the biggest thing is just our unity, us being connected, understanding what the goal is and them playing together, playing unselfishly."
Speaking of Donovan coaching the United States, him being in that position gives Florida a bit of an advantage when it comes to the recruitment of a pair of uncommitted five-star rising seniors, center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, IL) and forward Justise Winslow (Houston, TX). Ranked No. 1 and No. 10, respectively, in the Rivals150 for 2014, Okafor and Winslow are getting to see first-hand what it is like to be coached by Donovan both in practice and during games. Though the Gators are not in Okafor's current list of eight (he does hold an offer from UF), they are in Winslow's top 10. Donovan had a similar opportunity last year when he coached the under-18 team and five-star power forward Julius Randle (McKinney, TX), but Randle eventually committed to Kentucky nearly a year later.