Head coach Jan Mann expressed disappointment after Saturday’s final round, when the Tar Heels shot their tournament-high of 9-over-par.
“We would have liked to have won the event,” Mann said. “I think we were in a position where we could have done that for sure. It’s disappointing that we ended up in fourth place.”
UNC started the tournament with a strong first round on Thursday, led by impressive performances by junior Bryana Nguyen and senior Leslie Cloots.
Nguyen turned in a 4-under 68 in the first round, which put her in a tie for first. The junior caught fire on the back nine, tallying five birdies on her final six holes of the round.
Cloots and sophomore Kelly Whaley bolstered the team’s first-day performance with scores of 70 and 73, respectively. The Tar Heels sat 1-under-par and tied for third heading into Friday’s second round.
UNC had trouble Friday as the team shot 4-over-par, but still found itself tied for second. Nguyen, the team’s breadwinner in round one, struggled in the second round and ended up shooting a 4-over-par 76.
While day one’s top performers regressed slightly, first-year Brynn Walker held her own for the Tar Heels. After a 76 on Thursday, Walker fired five birdies on her way to a one-under 71. Mann said Walker’s improvement on the greens sparked her round.
“We had worked on her putting,” Mann said. “She had missed some makeable putts the first round, so we worked on her putting after the first round and it was a whole lot better. She definitely made those putts that she had missed the day before.”
Nguyen and Cloots regained form in Saturday’s final round, leading the Tar Heels with respective scores of 72 and 71. Cloots’ solid play led her to a fourth-place finish while Nguyen also claimed a top-10 spot, finishing eighth.
“(Nguyen) got probably a little quick with her tempo that second day, and the putts weren’t falling like they did the first day,” Mann said. “I think she got a little frustrated and that didn’t help her as far as the round goes. She certainly came back today and had a very solid round.”
Despite the respectable finish, Mann said she and the team felt they could have done more. A strong first round gave the Tar Heels a chance at victory, but mistakes and back-nine struggles kept the Tar Heels from victory.
“We’re disappointed today,” Mann said. “We could have definitely finished a lot stronger, particularly that back nine. (There’s) a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouth.”