Who stood out?
The Tar Heels were led by first-year Ryan Burnett and senior Josh Martin, who both shot 217 (7-over-par) in the tournament, including Burnett’s back-to-back rounds at par. Sophomore Ryan Gerard was the only Tar Heel who shot a round under par, finishing his second round 1-under-par.
Martin and Burnett both finished 14th overall at the tournament. This was Martin’s first top-20 finish since May of 2017 when the Tar Heels competed in NCAA Regionals. Burnett has now finished in the top-20 three times this season as part of his explosive first year at North Carolina.
Senior Preyer Fountain had an unusually rough outing, shooting 239 and finishing 29-over-par. His season average prior to Monday was 216 strokes per tournament, but his sudden deviation away from his normally solid play may be more of a testament to the extreme difficulty of the course. Three of the other four Tar Heel golfers also had higher stroke counts compared to their season averages.
When was it decided?
The result of this one was clear from the get-go.
Oklahoma State took a six-stroke lead in the first round and never looked back. N.C. State found itself in third place after a 287-stroke first round and a spectacular two-under-par second round to beat out SMU by four-strokes to secure their second-place finish.
UNC was in a tie with Pepperdine for sixth-place at the end of the second round, but a 20-over-par performance in the final round prevented the Tar Heels from advancing further on the leaderboard.
Why does it matter?
The Royal Oaks Intercollegiate quite possibly marks the toughest tournament so far in the Tar Heels' season. The experience of facing talented competition on such a difficult course gives the Tar Heels insight into the kinds of challenges they will have to overcome later in the season as they make a playoff push.
The Tar Heels are now at the half-way point in their season and will get a few months off to rest and make necessary adjustments before the final six tournaments of the regular season.
When do they play next?
The men’s golf team is finished with tournament play for the fall. They won’t tee off again until Feb. 4th when the team travels to Jacksonville, Florida for the Sea Best Invitational.