Current Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2014 22:21:55 -0400
Casey Grice and her teammates are taking advice from a man with a green jacket.
Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion known for his swashbuckling style and adventurous shot-making, told reporters last week before the start of the 2013 Masters that he wouldn’t be tempted by alluring pins — hitting to the fat of the green, safe from self-inflicted misery, would do.
Grice and the No. 11 North Carolina women’s golf team were listening. Grice said they’ll apply Watson’s conservative approach to this weekend’s ACC Championship at Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club, a demanding layout that also hosts the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship.
“With this course, placement is key,” said Grice, a standout junior who will play in an LPGA event April 25. “There’s five or six holes out there that if you don’t place it in the right areas, you’re pretty much stymied — you don’t have a shot.”
Grice, UNC’s top player, headlines a deep Tar Heel lineup that will clash with fellow ACC titans No. 15 Virginia and defending champion No. 3 Duke. The Blue Devils bulldozed second-place UNC and the rest of the field en route to a 10-stroke win in 2012.
When reminded of the formidable foes awaiting her team in Greensboro, Grice quickly pointed out that UNC has captured three team titles in 2012-13 — two victories in the fall and a win in February at the UCF Challenge.
“We just need to keep going with our game plan and hit some great shots out there,” Grice said.
Also helping the Tar Heels is their familiarity with Sedgefield, where they won the 2011 ACC crown during Grice’s freshman year. In UNC’s runner-up finish to Duke in 2012, Grice and fellow junior Katherine Perry both grabbed top-15 individual finishes.
“We know what the greens are like and what shots to hit around the green,” said Perry, who has four top-25 finishes this year and whom coach Jan Mann called the team’s hottest player entering the ACCs. “Being able to talk through that and know the course, I think that’s going to be really helpful.”
UNC has had two-and-a-half weeks of practice since its last event. Knowing well the daunting task that lays before it in Greensboro, the team has spent much of its layoff sharpening its play around the greens.
“The course is a very demanding short-game course, and we have been working quite a bit on that,” Mann said. “I think we’ve prepared well, and I think they’re at a good place. Hopefully they’ll perform at their best.”
The key, Grice said, is heeding the counsel of a green-clad major championship winner.
“That’s what helped us win (in 2011), picking the right shots, staying the course of our plan, and not trying to do too much with the shot,” Grice said.
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