The UNC men’s golf team finished strong at Pinehurst No. 2 on Tuesday to place second in the Wake Forest Invitational. The event, hosted by Wake Forest in Pinehurst, N.C., strong ACC competition, including the No. 2 Demon Deacons, No. 35 N.C. State, No. 36 Duke and the No. 13 Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels struggled out of the gates, shooting a 12-over-par score of 292 in the first round. Wake Forest shot a strong 281 in the opening round, giving the Demon Deacons a lead they wouldn’t give up.
Junior Ryan Burnett led UNC with an opening round 1-over-par score of 71. UNC bounced back in the second round with a 7-under 273, — the lowest-scoring round of the tournament for any team. First-year Peter Fountain and sophomore Austin Greaser led the comeback for the Tar Heels, shooting 4-under and 3-under-par rounds, respectively.
Fountain and Greaser continued their great play in the third round with 2-under and 1-under-par rounds. Senior Ryan Gerard joined them in the 60s for the final round, shooting a 2-under-par 68.
UNC finished the tournament solidly in second place, nine strokes behind Wake Forest and 14 strokes ahead of N.C. State. Fountain finished with a three-round score of 4-under-par 206, good to tie for second in the tourney. Gerard and Greaser also finished in the top 10, with Gerard in sixth and Greaser tied for seventh. Burnett, who was a second-team all-American last year, uncharacteristically struggled in the last two rounds, finishing with a 12-over 222.
Who stood out?
Fountain continued his strong start to his UNC career with a second-place finish in the third event of the season. In the first event of the season, the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational, Fountain became the third consecutive Tar Heel to have a top-3 collegiate debut, following Burnett in 2018 and Greaser last season.
Fountain battled with Wake Forest's Michael Brennan, eventually losing by one stroke after they both shot 68 in the final round. Fountain’s second-round score of 4-under 66 was tied for the top score for any golfer in any round of the event.
When was it decided?
The strong second round from the Tar Heels put them in sole possession of second place, and their third round was more than adequate to hold onto it.
The battle for the top spot among players, though, was much more heated. Fountain entered the final round down by one to Brennan, and the race was tight to the finish. N.C. State’s Maximillian Steinlechner made a late surge, but ended up tied with Fountain for second place.
Why does it matter?
UNC, which tied for the win in its last event, continued its strong start to the season. Burnett, Gerard, Greaser, and senior Austin Hitt have all finished in the top 10 of one of the season’s first three tournaments, showing just how deep the team is. If the Tar Heels can get most of these players playing their best golf at the same time, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will compete next at the General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. from March 14-16.
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