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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC men's golf triumphs at Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational


UNC men's golf assistant coach Noah Goldman, graduate student Kenan Poole, junior Maxwell Ford, graduate student Austin Greaser, fifth-year Dylan Menante, junior David Ford, and head coach Andrew DiBitetto pictured at the Fighting Illini Men's Invitational in Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications/University of Illinois Athletics. 

The third hole at Olympia Fields’ North Course is regarded among the best par-4s in all of golf. 

The blind tee shot plays downhill to a narrow fairway bracketed by out-of-bounds left and thick rough right. The short grass runs out into Butterfield Creek in front of a perched putting surface that repels errant approaches.

It’s a really hard golf hole.

And yet, David Ford of the No. 1 North Carolina men’s golf team holed out for a two.

That shot on Saturday morning sparked a UNC blitz of the North Course. The top-ranked Tar Heels posted an 11-under-par 269 in round two of the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational to win its season-opening tournament by six shots. The Tar Heels’ 269 was the best team round in the tournament’s history, and it was good enough for an 11-shot swing over Texas on Saturday. Maxwell Ford led the team individually, finishing solo second. 

It is the third consecutive year the Tar Heels have competed in the team and individual stroke play event. North Carolina won the event in 2021, and now-graduate student Austin Greaser holed out on the final hole to claim medalist honors.

This year's Tar Heel lineup at Olympia Fields included Greaser, the Ford brothers, Dylan Menante and Kenan Poole. David Ford is the reigning ACC Player of the Year, and he joined Menante and Greaser on the USA’s winning Walker Cup team two weeks ago in St. Andrews. The Tar Heels faced stiff competition, as 13 of the 15 teams were ranked.

Maxwell Ford eagled the first hole of his tournament and first as a Tar Heel on Friday en route to a 3-under 67. Meanwhile, David Ford and Greaser struggled on day one, posting rounds of 73 and 75 respectively. At the end of the first round, UNC was 1-over as a team.

“You could tell [Greaser] wasn’t pleased,” head coach Andrew DiBitetto said in a phone interview. “But by the time we were eating lunch together, he was in a great mood. That was a signal to me that his confidence is right where it needs to be.”

Saturday was different. 

David Ford’s slam-dunk hole out for eagle catapulted him to 3-under on the day after three holes. He went on to post a 2-under-par 68 while Menante recorded a 1-under round. 

Greaser and Maxwell Ford torched the back nine. Greaser’s inward 32 got him to 3-under for the day. Maxwell Ford, who made four birdies in a row on holes 12-15, finished 8-under-par for the tournament, one shot shy of The Amateur Champion Christo Lamprecht of Georgia Tech on the individual leaderboard.

“Round one for him, the success came from a ball-striking standpoint, especially driving,” DiBitetto said of Maxwell Ford. “In round two, his brain was his strength and having the maturity and the composure to stay patient when things were not going his way early in the round.”

Heavy rain in Chicago on Sunday forced the cancelation of the final round, at which point the Tar Heels were crowned champions.

The concern then for the Olympia Fields grounds staff was water overflowing from Butterfield Creek, rather than repairing a hole on the green beyond it. 

“This was one of the more tucked pins,” DiBitetto said. “It was front right, right over that big bunker. David [Ford], on number one with a wedge in his hand, he lipped out from the fairway for eagle. Literally did a 360 around the hole. And then on the second hole, he hit it to 10 feet [for birdie] but missed. And then on three he got up and literally flew it straight into the hole.”

DiBitetto was walking up the second hole with Maxwell Ford when they realized there was a delay up ahead at three. He received a text from assistant coach Noah Goldman.

“He texted me saying that they had to bring the maintenance team out because they were trying to repair the hole that David Ford exploded.” 

@dthsports |

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