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Monday August 15th

UNC women's golf ends season with a seventh-place finish at NCAA Regionals

<p>UNC junior Kayla Smith obtained her first career top-10 finish at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC junior Kayla Smith obtained her first career top-10 finish at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications. 

The UNC women’s golf team rounded out its season with a seventh-place finish at the 2022 Ann Arbor Regional at the University of Michigan Golf Course.

What happened?

The first round, which took place on Monday, saw juniors Kayla Smith and Krista Junkkari shoot 1-over-par 72s to open up the first day of competition.

The Tar Heels, one of 12 teams competing in the Ann Arbor Regional, exited the first round tied for sixth place. The team shot at 15-over 299 and was just five strokes out of fourth place.

The second day, a rough scoring day for all teams competing, saw UNC fall to 10th in the regional. UNC’s low rounds came from Junkkari (75) and Smith (2-over 74), making them tied for 17th place and 13th place respectively.

Three other Tar Heels shot at or below 80 on in the second round, as Nicole Adam shot 78, Natalia Aseguinolaza shot 79 and Crista Izuzquiza shot 80.

In the third and final day of competition, Smith led the charge for the Tar Heels, playing the last 18 holes in even par. All of UNC’s golfers shot at or below 78 in the final round, and the Tar Heels shot their best team score of the week at 6-over 290. However, due to UNC’s early deficit, this was only good for a seventh-place finish. 

Who stood out? 

Smith and Junkkari were the obvious standouts from regional competition.

Smith tied for 11th in individual standings, after making two birdies and two pars to shoot 71 on Wednesday. Junkkari, in her second consecutive top-20 finish, tied for 16th in individual standings after shooting 73 in the third round.

Despite not achieving the ultimate goal of making nationals, both Smith and Junkkari set school records this week. Junkkari set the UNC women’s golf single-season scoring record at 73.00. Smith finished the season just one shot behind Junkkari for the second-lowest stroke average in school history.

When was it decided?

After dropping to 10th place after the second day of competition, UNC had a battle on its hands. Despite this drop in standings, the Tar Heels shot 6-over 290 on the third day, 9 shots under their opening-round total and 16 shots under their previous day’s finish.

Despite this, facing stiff competition from top teams like San Jose State, Virginia, Arkansas and Michigan, the team couldn’t break into the top four spots needed to secure a trip to the NCAA Championship.

Why does it matter?

This week’s regional competition saw the first postseason action for a lot of young players on the UNC roster. The UNC women’s golf team has not competed in a regional since 2019, and is also in its first season under first-year head coach Aimee Neff.

Despite this, the seventh-seeded Tar Heels played to expectations with a seventh-place finish. The team posted a regional total of 43-over 895, and was just two strokes behind sixth-place Pepperdine. 

When do they play next?

With a seventh-place finish at NCAA Regionals, this week concludes the 2022 season for the UNC women’s golf team.


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