The No. 4 North Carolina men’s golf team finished first at the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club on Sunday afternoon, finishing 27-under 837 as a team.
The Tar Heels’ score is the second-lowest in tournament history, and fifth-year senior Ryan Gerard’s 15-under 201 tied the record for the lowest individual score in the event all-time.
This victory in Durham gave head coach Andrew DiBitetto his eighth team tournament title in five seasons.
UNC shot 14-under 274 in the first round, finishing six shots ahead of rival N.C. State and 15 ahead of host Duke.
First round individual scores for the Tar Heels included a 5-under 67 from Gerard, a 4-under 68 by junior Austin Greaser and a 3-under 69 from sophomore Peter Fountain.
The second round played more challenging for UNC than the first, but the Tar Heels still finished the round with the lowest team score of 11-under 277.
Gerard and first-year David Ford shot a 66 and 68, respectively, while Greaser finished 1-under 71 and both Fountain and junior George McNeely shot a 72.
North Carolina struggled to finish the tournament in the third round, with Gerard being the only Tar Heel to shoot in the 60s for his final 18. Collectively, the team shot 2-under 286, which ranked third for that round but wasn’t nearly the score UNC had recorded during either round before.
Fountain finished 1-under 71 during that final round to go along with Gerard’s 4-under 68.
N.C. State ended up taking a two-shot lead over North Carolina during the third round, but the Tar Heels quickly took back control and finished the last three holes with five birdies to cement the victory.
UNC ended up 27-under 837, three shots better than the rivals from Raleigh and 19 shots lower than Duke.
The field included 14 schools, and three Tar Heels finished among the top eight.
The individual title came down to Gerard and N.C. State’s Maximilian Steinlechner , as both golfers went into the 13th hole of the third round tied. At 13, Gerard’s birdie separated the Tar Heel from Steinlechner by three strokes after the N.C. State golfer double-bogeyed.
Steinlechner quickly came back with birdies of his own on 14 and 16 and tied the match at hole 17 with a challenging 40-foot putt for birdie, but Gerard countered with a birdie on 17 and sealed the deal with another birdie at 18.
Both golfers finished 4-under 68 in the final round and 5-under 67 in the first round, but Gerard’s 6-under 66 during the second round gave him a two-shot victory over Steinlechner, who shot 4-under 68 in the middle round.
Who stood out?
Gerard, a Raleigh native and Ravenscroft alumnus, took home the individual trophy and ensured a Tar Heel team victory with his birdies on 17 and 18 in the third round. Gerard’s 15-under 201 tied the tournament record, and his 15 under ranks fifth in UNC team history.
Gerard also led all golfers with 19 bogies and shot a tournament-best 12 under on par 4s, which was six shots better than any other golfer.
When was it decided?
North Carolina secured its team victory when four players — Greaser, Fountain, Ford, and Gerard — shot five birdies on the final three holes, which separated themselves from N.C. State by three shots.
Gerard’s individual title came down to the final two holes of the third round, where his birdies on 17 and 18 gave him the championship.
Why does it matter?
UNC showed two things in this tournament. First, the Tar Heels can get out to an early lead with excellent play on the first 36 holes. Second, they showed that even when they don’t play their best golf, the front nine of the third round in this case, they can still come back from a deficit and secure the victory.
These traits will certainly come in handy as the season progresses, especially during the ACC Championships in April and the NCAA Championships in May.
When do they play next?
The UNC men’s golf team travels to Olympia Fields, Ill. this weekend to compete in the Olympia Fields Fighting Illini Invitational, hosted by the University of Illinois.
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