‘El Mago’s’ Magical Transformation Enhances Gators’ Chances

Alejando Tosti made a commitment to become a better UF teammate and his golf game went along for the ride. A slew of heart-to-heart chats with Coach J.C. Deacon (left) put junior Alejando Tosti (right) on path to become an SEC champion — and better teammate. GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Alejandro Tosti , the awakening, epiphany, revelation or whatever you want to call it, did not occur on a golf course. Nope. The way Tosti viewed his place as a University of Florida athlete changed forever in — of all spots — a bowling alley.

It was the early morning hour of March 25. About 12:40 a.m. Tosti, some friends and just about everyone else inside Splitz of Gainesville were locked on the televisions scattered about when another Gator, point guard Chris Chiozza, sped the length of the floor in four blistering seconds and threw in a ridiculous, off-balance, 3-point shot at the buzzer to defeat Wisconsin 84-83 in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. Tosti was mesmerized by the emotions that jumped from the screen as Chiozza was mobbed by his teammates in a wild celebration that marked one of the greatest moments in UF basketball history.

The jumping-for-joy all around him was pretty cool, too.

"It made me think a lot about the university in general and what my coaches were expecting of me and had been talking to me about for so long," Tosti said. "It really just made me feel different about being at Florida. About being a Gator." Above: UF players and managers mob guard Chris Chiozza after his dramatic buzzer-beater to defeat Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA Tournament. Below: Alejandro Tosti’s reaction that night via Twitter, a rare social media post for the UF junior and golf star. Increible!!!!! Gatoooooorsssss!!!???????????????????????? — Ale L. Tosti (@AleTostiOK) March 25, 2017 So after nearly three years (some of them tumultuous), numerous sit-downs with his coaches (some that led to sit-outs from tournaments) and a bevy of discussions with his teammates (some, frankly, not so cordial), it took a Hail Mary from a fellow UF athlete that Tosti had never even met to set him straight and direct the volatile but extraordinarily talented golfer on his current path. It’s a good one, too. Tosti, the junior from Rosario, Argentina, has since captured individual medalist honors in sudden death at the Southeastern Conference Championship, been named first-team all-league and on Monday will help lead the fifth-ranked and top-seeded Gators into NCAA Regional play at West Lafayette, Ind.

"We’re talking about a guy who has totally changed the person he was," Florida coach J.C. Deacon said. "For the first couple years, Ale got caught up too much in himself and what he was doing. But this is a golf team and when you spend so much time in a group you have to be a good guy. It’s just like in any other aspect of your life. When relationships aren’t working well, chances are your professional life […]