After beating Arizona State earlier in quarterfinals, the Tar Heel men’s golf team advanced to the semifinals to face Georgia Tech, where they narrowly lost 3-2 on Tuesday evening in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Senior Dylan Menante got UNC started on the right foot, taking an early lead, finishing six holes up and completing his round early. Menante had been solid all day, only losing three out of the 28 holes he played and winning 14.
Sophomore David Ford — in a similar fashion to his earlier match — came from behind to win by one hole. Ford not only nabbed two rally-from-behind wins, but also one of only 11 golfers to be named to the Ping All-America first team.
Ford won ACC Player of the Year honors — the first sophomore to do so since 2010 — and also became the first player since Brooks Koepka at Florida State to consecutively win ACC Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year.
While Menante and Ford pushed the Tar Heels two points closer to a chance to play in the championship, both fifth-year Ryan Burnett and senior Austin Greaser lost by four and did not play the 17th and 18th holes.
For both the Yellow Jackets and the Tar Heels, junior Peter Fountain and Ross Steelman’s final match decided who advanced. Steelman was able to pull ahead and made crucial putts on holes 16 and 17 to put the match away in his favor. However, Fountain gave Steelman a run for his money and having been down three strokes going into 16, sank two putts to extend the match and cut the Georgia Tech senior’s lead to one.
Steelman putted the Yellow Jackets to victory on hole 18 and handed UNC an early ticket home, one point shy of their third visit to the championship match.
With the conclusion of the season for the Tar Heels, point gathering opportunities for PGA Tour University have stopped with Tar Heel senior Ryan Burnett placing seventh. PGA Tour University is a “tour” only for college players opening up post-college playing opportunities to the top finishers including cards for multiple developmental leagues. With Burnett’s finish, he will have the opportunity to play full time on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, PGA Tour China or the Mackenzie Tour.