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Friday May 20th

Preview: Veteran leaders, young talent will carry UNC women's golf in 2020-21 season

<p>Women's golf senior player Rachel Jones hits a ball out of a bunker at the Ruth Chris Tar Heel Invitational&nbsp;on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016.</p>
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Women's golf senior player Rachel Jones hits a ball out of a bunker at the Ruth Chris Tar Heel Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016.

After the pandemic cut short a season of solid team displays, the UNC women's golf team will look to return to form and remain a contender during the 2020-21 spring campaign.

The Tar Heels’ best display last season came from the Moon Golf Invitational, hosted by the Louisville Cardinals. The team tied for fourth, with fifth-year senior Brynn Walker leading the Tar Heels with her one-under-par performance. UNC also performed well at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational with a six-under-par team finish, good for sixth place. 

Walker will be taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to many athletes by the NCAA as a result of the pandemic, returning to UNC as a fifth-year senior. Walker averaged a 74.25 overall score last season and shot a season-low round of 69 in the opening round of the Mason Rudolph Championship. 

Joining the team this season are two promising first-years, Natalia Aseguinolaza and Nicole Adam. Aseguinolaza hails from San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa, Spain, where she competed as a member of the Spanish national team. The golfer was crowned the Basque Country champion at the age of 12 with a round of 66.

Adam will also be a vital asset to securing tournament victories in the upcoming season. The North Carolina native comes to UNC as one of the highest-rated recruits in the country, including a No. 9 ranking in the class of 2020, per Golfweek. She's also a proven winner, already notching three first-place tournament finishes in her young career.

Also returning to UNC are junior Jennifer Zhou and senior Ava Bergner. Zhou was named as an honorable mention to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association all-American team in the 2019-20 season and finished fifth overall in the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational, shooting five-under-par. Bergner was unable to compete in the spring portion of last season, but did take part in all four fall tournaments in 2019, notching her best showing at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational with a season-low 72. 

For the second year in a row, the Tar Heels will begin their season by competing in the Moon Golf Invitational, which begins on Feb. 14 in Melbourne, Florida. Both Walker and sophomore Kayla Smith came away with top-15 finishes at the tournament last season, so the Tar Heels will look to use this tournament as a launching point to springboard them to new heights. With a combination of talented recruits and the strong leadership of 12th-year head coach Jan Mann, UNC should be a team to watch in the spring.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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