Facing high winds and heavy rain in the final round, the North Carolina men’s golf team tied for second place along with Louisville in the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational. Tennessee won the tournament.
The Tar Heels faced 14 other teams at the tournament, with eight of those being ranked in the top-50 teams in the country — No. 43 Tennessee, No. 22 Louisville, No. 17 North Florida, No. 30 N.C. State, No. 19 Clemson, No. 37 TCU, No. 21 Alabama and No. 9 Auburn.
Individually, the Tar Heels finished all over the scoreboard. Junior Austin Hitt and sophomore Ryan Gerard tied for 11th place with a score of 220 after both played well in all three rounds. Notably, Hitt had the third-best first round score, and maintained a finish near the top.
First-year Ryan Burnett shot 225 and placed in a tie for 25th, while senior Joshua Martin and first-year Luis Castro each shot 228 and tied for 34th place. First-year Dougie Ergood finished in 74th place with a score of 238 to round out the performances of the Tar Heels.
Who stood out?
Hitt and Gerard stood out the most for UNC in the tournament. Hitt’s birdie at the end of the tournament on Monday pushed the Tar Heels to a second place finish, tying the Cardinals at the final hole. Gerard shot a 76 in round three of the tournament, which was one of the best scores of anyone on Monday, considering the effect of bad weather on play.
North Carolina head coach Andrew DiBitetto said Hitt was very good at controlling his ball. Additionally, he said Gerard’s creativeness, grit, and skill in the short game were very apparent throughout the entire tournament.
“When the wind is as brutal as it was today, blowing so hard, I mean really, you know, technique and all that, you kind of throw it out the window and you have to hit shots," DiBitetto said. "You have to be creative, you have to hit low and you have to have an excellent short game to rely on, and both those guys are really good players."
Why does it matter?
This tournament matters for UNC, because it marked a high performance in less-than-ideal weather conditions. DiBitetto said the team can use this experience to discuss what they did correctly, and what they can improve on for the next time the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“So rain gloves, do you wear one rain glove, do you wear two rain gloves, do you wear rain pants? Basically how do you keep your stuff dry for as long as possible or do you just let it get wet and go to the rain gear?" DiBettetto said. "It’s a part of our game that really is not talked about much until you have a day like today, where it becomes critically important."
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels compete in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational on Apr. 12 and 13 in Phoenix, Az.
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