After tying for fifth place in the 2021 NCAA Championship, the North Carolina men’s golf team is looking forward to a strong season, returning to tournament play with what head coach Andrew DiBitetto called "one of the best teams in the country."
DiBitetto's view seems to hold up, with the Tar Heels currently ranked No. 4 in the nation in the 2021-22 Bushnell/Golfweek preseason national coaches' rankings.
“We’re a great team,” DiBitetto said. “Perhaps one of the best teams in the country, but that’s going to be our challenge, is going out every single time and to every single tournament that we play and trying to prove that.”
North Carolina opened its season this weekend at the Rod Myers Invitational held at the Duke University Golf Club. Three returning starters competed — fifth-year senior Ryan Gerard, junior Austin Greaser and sophomore Peter Fountain.
“A lot of our guys played well this weekend,” DiBitetto said. “We came home with a bunch of trophies. We won the team title and Ryan Gerard taking home an individual trophy was like the icing on the cake.”
Gerard is third in program history in career stroke average of 72.04 and was an All-American honorable mention in 2019. He performed well over the weekend by shooting a 67 and a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday, and was one of only four Tar Heels in the top 10 after playing 36 holes.
On Sunday, Gerard birdied the 17th and 18th holes and won by two strokes, taking the individual championship and leading North Carolina to the Rod Myers Invitational title.
“We’re not hosting a tournament in Chapel Hill this year and this was the closest to home that we’ll get,” Gerard said. “We had a lot of support from the light blue side coming over to the dark side and it was really cool seeing all of that, especially being right down the road.”
He was a first-team All-American in the spring and serves as the first Tar Heel in program history to earn those honors as a first-year, and was also the first in the program to earn those honors since 2003. He is ranked No. 34 in the World Amateur Golf rankings and sixth in Golfweek’s final 2021 collegiate rankings — the highest of any Tar Heel in the last 20 years.
In addition to the returning talent, the Tar Heels also have first-year David Ford, who entered college as the No. 1 player in the country in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association and Golfweek junior rankings as of Aug. 21.