The North Carolina women’s golf team finished ninth out of 11 teams on Monday in the two-day Palmetto Spring Invitational held in Charleston, S.C.
“Obviously, we’re all disappointed we didn’t play any better,” head coach Jan Mann said. “With that being said, we have three freshman and two sophomores in the lineup, and a bit of the inexperience certainly showed up.”
The Tar Heels finished in eighth place after the first round. UNC’s team score of 313 placed a mere nine strokes out of the top five. First-year Natalia Aseguinolaza was the only UNC golfer to make par in the first round.
The second round yielded similar results for the Tar Heels, as the team tallied a total score of 315. And while the Tar Heels stayed consistent, their opponents only improved and widened their leads. UNC finished the second round in 10th place, 19 strokes out of the top five.
UNC put together its best performance of the invitational in the third round. The team scored a combined 311 points, and four of five starters finished either two or three strokes over par. The Tar Heels' strong closing performance moved them up the board to the ninth place spot.
Who stood out?
Aseguinolaza stood out as the Tar Heels’ best performer during the invitational. The first-year finished tied for 28th place individually with a three-round score of 231, and was the only Tar Heel to finish even during any round.
“Without question, this team is a very, very talented team, and Natalia is an example of just how talented they are,” Mann said. “There are definitely some areas she can improve upon, but overall she does a very good job.”
When was it decided?
The second round of the invitational was a turning point for the Tar Heels. After finishing narrowly outside of the top five in the first round, UNC regressed while its opponents improved. The Tar Heels’ second-round performance moved them down to the 10th spot in the tournament and ultimately created a deficit too substantial to overcome.
“When we can get them all performing to their level of ability, I think we’re going to be in really good shape," Mann said.
Why does it matter?
This was an important tournament for UNC because it exposed key areas where the Tar Heels need to improve and showed them where they stand in comparison to several other ACC teams.
Mann said that after the invitational, the biggest things the Tar Heels need to work on are their mental game and pre-shot routines.
“We both observed that taking longer to stand over their shot is certainly a negative,” Mann said. “The longer they stand over a shot or a putt, the more tense they become. And certainly more doubt is able to creep in.”
Mann also plans to work with the team on how to respond to negative or doubtful thoughts while playing.
UNC played six ACC opponents during the invitational. While they beat in-state rival N.C. State, the Tar Heels finished behind Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Although the Tar Heels lost to five ACC opponents, the season is far from over, and Mann believes that with time, practice and more competition, UNC will reach its potential and be able to compete with the rest of the ACC.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels' next tournament is the Gamecock Intercollegiate in Columbia, S.C. The tournament will take place from March 1 through March 3.
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