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Friday December 9th

UNC men's golf opens spring play with sixth-place finish at Sea Best Invitational

<p>Men's golf first-year Doug Ergood follows through on a swing at Finley Golf Course on Sept. 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of the UNC Athletic Department.</p>
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Men's golf first-year Doug Ergood follows through on a swing at Finley Golf Course on Sept. 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of the UNC Athletic Department.

In the first tournament of the spring season, the North Carolina men’s golf team placed sixth out of 14 teams in the Sea Best Invitational on Monday and Tuesday at the TPC Sawgrass Valley course in Jacksonville, Fla.

What happened?

UNC had a consistent outing, finishing both the first and second rounds with a total score of 285 and the third round with a score of 288. UNC struggled a bit as a team with the simpler par three and par four holes, shooting eight-over and 28-over, respectively. However, the Tar Heels were able to make up for that a tad as they shot five-under on the par five holes.

Head coach Andrew DiBitetto commented on what it’s like to start the season off with such a challenge. 

“TPC Sawgrass is a very difficult and demanding golf course,” DiBitetto said. “In terms of our performance, I would say we were pretty average. We did some things well and we did some things not well.”

Who stood out?

Coming off of a great fall season where he led North Carolina with a stroke average of 70.13 in five fall events, junior Austin Hitt kept that momentum going with a standout performance for North Carolina. Hitt tied for 11th on the individual leaderboard and throughout the three rounds, he shot 71, 68 and then a 72 to end the tournament at one-over-par.

Once the results were in, DiBitetto shared his thoughts on Hitt’s solid play. 

“He kind of led the way for us,” DiBitetto said. “For him to shoot 68 yesterday on this golf course was a really good round.”

When was it decided?

By the end of the second round, it became clear that UNC was going to finish somewhere in the range of fourth to eighth. Every team ahead of the Tar Heels had shot 282 or lower in at least one of the first two rounds, while North Carolina just couldn’t seem to break through that barrier.

DiBitetto explained what makes TPC Sawgrass such a difficult course. “It’s a fairly narrow and tight course.” DiBitetto said. “It’s demanding off the tee with thick roughs and hills or a body of water on the other side. It forces you to step up and execute.”

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels managed to put on a strong performance to start the 2019 spring season, all things considered. Traveling played a significant factor in the results, with Florida State, North Florida and the University of Florida all finishing in the top three in their home state.

Taking a look at the field of competition, North Carolina was going to have to put on a solid and complete performance over the course of both days in order to get a respectable finish. UNLV, Arkansas, N.C. State and North Florida were all ranked in the top 26 in the country heading into the invitational.

When do they play next?

North Carolina travels all the way to Hawai’I for the John Burns Intercollegiate tournament from Feb. 21-23.

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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