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Thursday August 18th

UNC men's golf finishes seventh at Valspar Collegiate Invitational

<p>Ryan Burnett putts in the green at the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club on Sunday, September 15, 2019.&nbsp;</p>
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Ryan Burnett putts in the green at the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club on Sunday, September 15, 2019. 

The No. 4 North Carolina men’s golf team finished 11 under par, earning them a seventh-place finish at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational in Palm City, Fla. on Tuesday.

What happened?

On Monday morning, the Tar Heels got off to a shaky start as they shot only three under par and found themselves sitting in a tie for eighth in the 15-team field after 18 holes.

Juniors Kenan Poole and Austin Greaser struggled to find a rhythm in the first round, both shooting seven over par, including a combined seven bogeys and three double bogeys.

The composed play of senior Ryan Burnett kept North Carolina in striking distance. He shot four under par and situated himself in a five-way tie for seventh place on the individual leader board.

Despite the rough start, Monday’s afternoon session proved to be a turning point.

The consistent play of first-year David Ford and senior Ryan Gerard catapulted the Tar Heels to third on the leaderboard at 12 under par to finish Day 1.

Ford chipped in four birdies in round two, and Gerard added three more as the pair finished tied for 11th and 15th place, respectively, on the individual leader board.

Continuing his spectacular play, Burnett ascended to a four-way tie for third on the player standings after recording one eagle and a team-high five birdies. 

The Tar Heels teed off Day 2 sitting 16 strokes back of tournament-leader Pepperdine, who amassed a sizeable lead shooting 28 under par through the first two rounds. However, they were unable to carry their momentum into the last 18 holes at The Floridian National Golf Club.

Only Gerard shot under par, finishing round three with seven birdies. Moreover, Ford erased his promising Day 1 effort and shot five over par, dropping his overall score to par.

Consequently, North Carolina shot one over par to close out the tournament, resulting in a seventh-place finish at 11 under par. No. 10 Pepperdine cruised to first place shooting an impressive 34 under par for the event.

Who stood out? 

Burnett’s experience and poise were on full display as he kept the Tar Heels afloat in the standings for the first two rounds. As other teammates struggled on the course, he posted 10 birdies and two eagles on Day 1. Although he could not repeat his success on Day 2, he still finished tied for 10th individually.

Additionally, Gerard shot under par for all three rounds, showcasing consistent play that led to him tying Burnett for a team-best six under par.

When was it decided?

Going into the final round, the third-place Tar Heels looked to build on a strong finish and make a push for the top of the standings. But an underwhelming Day 2 across the board resulted in North Carolina finishing seventh.

No. 10 Pepperdine walked away as the champions of the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, blowing away the competition by shooting 34 under par. The next closest team was second-place No. 26 Florida State who ended 20 under par.

Why does it matter?

With only one more golf match until the ACC Championships, the Valspar Collegiate Invitational was an opportunity for the Tar Heels to address their areas of improvement and solidify themselves as the team to beat against ACC participants No. 26 Florida State, No. 21 Clemson and Duke.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will travel to Phoenix to play in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational at Papago Golf Course from April 15-16.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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