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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's golf finishes seventh at rain-shortened Mason Rudolph Championship

Briar's Creek Invitational
The North Carolina women's golf team won the Briar's Creek Invitational two weeks ago. Whaley (holding trophy) also won the individual title. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Department.

In its second tournament of the season, the North Carolina women’s golf team tied for seventh in the 15-team Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tenn. The Tar Heels shot a 12-over-par 588 through 36 holes in the rain-shortened event. The champion, Vanderbilt, shot a 17-under 559.

What happened?

Head coach Jan Mann sent out the same five golfers for team play as she did in a ninth-place finish two weekends ago: senior Kelly Whaley, junior Brynn Walker, sophomore Ava Bergner and first-years Jennifer Zhou and Nicole Lu.

On Friday, Zhou had the best round of her brief UNC career. She finished five strokes under par through the first 18 holes, for a score of 67. That put her in a tie for second place and just one shot off first.

Junior Mariana Ocano, who competed as an individual in her first round of the season, shot a three-under-par 69. Whaley was the only other Tar Heel to finish at or under par on Friday, shooting an even 72. Lu shot a +2; Walker (+5) and Bergner (+8) struggled; and North Carolina stood at seventh after day one.

On Saturday, it was Whaley’s turn to shine. She shot a five-under 67, the second best round of her career (her best was a -12 at the Briar’s Creek Invitational in March 2018).

Outside of Whaley, results were similar. Zhou and Ocano both shot a two-over 74. Walker (+6) and Bergner (+9) struggled again, and Lu slipped to a +7.

The third round started immediately after the second, in an effort to beat the weather. But rain at Vanderbilt Legends Club cut the round short about two-thirds of the way through.

UNC was ninth place with a +19 team score. To determine finishes, teams reverted to their scores through two rounds. This saved the Tar Heels seven strokes and moved them into a seventh-place tie with Louisville.

Who stood out?

Zhou and Whaley both put on impressive individual performances. Zhou, a first-year, had nine birdies in her -5 first round and did not bogey a single hole on the back nine on Friday. She finished the tournament tied for seventh.

Whaley, UNC’s single-season leader in stroke average with 73.24 last year, finished the tournament with a five-under-par 139. That tied her for fourth — the best finish of any UNC golfer in the tournament.

When was it decided?

Host school Vanderbilt was 10 strokes under par as a team after the first round. The rest of the field was playing catchup at that point. It didn’t faze the Commodores, who won by a comfortable 12 strokes.

Why does it matter?

Both of UNC’s tournaments have been shortened from 54 holes (three rounds) to 36 holes (two) due to weather. The Tar Heels finished ninth of 19 teams in the Cougar Classic, held in Charleston, S.C.

A tie for seventh place is a small improvement, but it’s worth noting UNC was on its way to a lower finish until rain cut the tournament short.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will host the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational from Oct. 12 to 14 at Finley Golf Course.

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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