Tar Heels earn first win of the season in Georgia

If this year’s North Carolina women’s golf team was holding anything back this season, consider this weekend’s Liz Murphey Fall Preview tournament its coming out party.

The Tar Heels surpassed expectations and took out a stacked field, including No. 1 Alabama at the event held in Athens, Ga., finishing with a score of 12-over-par, 876, as a team over the three rounds held Friday through Sunday.

“It was certainly a great victory for our team,” coach Jan Mann said. “The top teams in the country were there, and for us to come out on top was very exciting.”

UNC went from seventh place after round one to third after the second round and ultimately landed on top of the leaderboard after the final putt dropped.

Mann said her team really picked up steam throughout the tournament.

“As the days went on the team just gained more and more confidence,” Mann said. “And when it came down to the wire they made some real crucial putts and came out on top.”

UNC faced adversity during the three rounds in the form of difficult holes, but responded by moving on quickly.

“There were a couple of times when they had a bad hole,” Mann said. “But instead of following it with another bad hole they really dug in and kept their confidence and it paid off for us.”

Junior Casey Grice paced the squad with a 2-under-par, 214, performance, good enough to capture second place in the individual competition.

“It’s just a great confidence booster, to know we can play with all these teams and beat them as well,” Grice said.

She credited consistency and patience for her second place finish.

“I had to be patient hitting the ball all week and finally dropped a few putts on the back nine,” Grice said.

Her one-under-par, 71, in the final round secured the victory for UNC, but she couldn’t do it all herself.

Fellow junior Jackie Chang had a strong tournament, posting a 2-over-par, 218, living up to her second seed for UNC.

“None of us knew how we were doing today so when we all got off the course we were just ecstatic,” an excited Chang said. “We went out there and just played our own game and it ended up coming all together all at once.”

The team win is the first during Chang’s career.

Freshman Elizabeth Mallett, whose performance impressed her teammates, finished 26th to seal the win for UNC.

The team should return to Chapel Hill with assurance of its place in the national title hunt after winning on the very same course where the 2013 NCAA championship will be played. The importance of that is not lost on Mann.

“It definitely is a huge confidence builder for the team going into nationals and into the spring season.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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2016-17 March Madness Preview by The Daily Tar Heel

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