The No. 6 ranked UNC Men’s Golf team had their best finish in an NCAA regional in program history on May 19 to tie for second place in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Golf Noblesville Regional.
Despite this record-breaking finish, head coach Andrew DiBitetto is yearning for more from his team.
“We were decent at regionals, but we were not at our very best,” DiBitetto said. “It keeps our guys hungry; it keeps them motivated.”
First-year Peter Fountain stood out at Wednesday’s regional for his Tar Heel team, shooting a 5-under-par 67 to help lead his team to the second-place tie.
Fountain – who is No. 7 in the latest Golfweek individual rankings – won the ACC individual title earlier this month, becoming the first Tar Heel to do so since 2003 and only the tenth first-year to accomplish the feat in conference history. Fountain shot a 10-under-par 200 in Milton, Georgia to bring home the gold, even as his team fell to No. 2 ranked Florida State in the semifinals.
“ACC was definitely a lot of fun,” Fountain said. “That was probably the best I’ve putted outside of ten feet.”
Fountain said winning the individual championship was validation for him. He had been focusing on his driver and putter to prepare for the regional tournament and will continue to do so to prepare for nationals. However, he is not the only Tar Heel putting in the work.
“All of us are working hard,” sophomore Austin Greaser said. “We wanted to make sure we made it to nationals.”
Making it to the championship round was important for this team, particularly the upperclassmen who missed out on the opportunity last year as a result of the season being canceled because of COVID-19. Greaser and his fellow sophomores have yet to experience postseason golf as Tar Heels.
The men's golf team, as one of the top-five teams from the Noblesville Regional, will advance to the NCAA Championship round at the Grayhawk Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. The team left for the tournament on Sunday and will begin playing alongside 30 other teams on Friday.
The Arizonan environment may present a challenge for the Tar Heel golfers, who are not used to playing in that terrain, though it’s not a problem that the team is unaware of.
“The golf out there is so much more different,” Fountain said.
Coach DiBitetto shared similar sentiments, explaining that the UNC team will have to adjust to the new environment. It is clear that this adjustment isn’t negatively affecting the team’s excitement about the upcoming NCAA Championship.
“I’m ecstatic to be going to the National Championship, especially with this team and these coaches,” Greaser said. “I couldn’t be more proud to wear the Carolina blue and white.”
This is the UNC men’s golf team’s fourth straight trip to the NCAA Championship, but they have failed to take home the title on any of these occasions. DiBitetto said this team is determined to bring home the trophy to Chapel Hill this year.
“This team is different,” DiBitetto said. “This is a really, really competitive group.”
Fountain and Greaser expressed that the team’s success in the championship round will come down to limiting mistakes, staying level-headed and being emotionally prepared. Fountain said the team might get some bad breaks playing desert golf, but he has faith in their ability.
“This is probably one of our better seasons as a program,” Fountain said. “Being a part of that has been a blessing.”
UNC will tee off in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday. The match play quarterfinals and semifinals will begin the following Tuesday and the final will wrap up on Wednesday.