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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC men's golf competes in the St Andrews Links Collegiate; finishes runner-up

Maxwell Ford tees off on historic 18th hole at the Old Course.JPG

UNC junior Maxwell Ford tees off on historic 18th hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications. 

The top-ranked UNC men’s golf team competed in the inaugural St Andrews Links Collegiate this week at the Home of Golf in Scotland, finishing runner-up to Vanderbilt in the team competition and losing a medal match around the Old Course 4.5-1.5 on Wednesday. 

Two rounds of stroke play were contested on St Andrews’ Jubilee Course Monday and Tuesday to determine an individual champion, and Fountain paced the Tar Heels, finishing in solo third at 6-under-par.

UNC’s lineup at St Andrews included senior Peter Fountain, junior Maxwell Ford, graduate student Kenan Poole, first-year Hampton Roberts and Old Course veterans graduate student Austin Greaser and fifth-year Dylan Menante. 

Junior David Ford was not in Scotland as he helped Team USA claim its first title in the World Amateur Team Championships since 2014 last week.

North Carolina was tied with Vanderbilt after day one of stroke play at 7-under. Menante led the Tar Heels on day one with a 4-under 66. His inward 31 on day one included an eagle three on the par-5 12th hole and three consecutive birdies on holes 14-16. 

Fountain was 4-under for his first round after an eagle hole out on 15 before making bogey on two of the last three to post a 68. Poole recorded a 1-under round, while Maxwell Ford and Roberts both posted even-par 70.

Menante had a good shot at winning the individual competition standing on the 11th tee on day two. He had gone out in bogey-free 31 and trailed Vanderbilt’s Jackson Van Paris by one shot. After a good drive, Menante struck his second shot from the fairway. 

He hated it. Immediately after the strike, Menante looked down at the links turf. 

The ball finished long and left of the green and nestled into thick rough. He was unable to get his third on the green and missed a short bogey putt, leading to a six. Van Paris birdied the long par-4, and his lead ballooned to four shots.

Menante struggled from there, making two bogeys and a double over his last seven holes en route to an inward 41. But despite his back-nine woes, Menante’s teammates picked him up, and the Tar Heels qualified for the championship match.

After a 73 on day one, Greaser bounced back with birdies on the first three holes and recorded a 66 in round two. Poole also made three consecutive birdies on the front. His 67 would have been lower had his birdie effort from distance not come up fractions short on the 18th. 

Fountain hit a perfect shot to mere inches on the par-3 17th to put the finishing touches on a round of 67. Maxwell Ford hit a brilliant approach into the 18th from a side-hill lie and difficult angle to about 10 feet on the 18th. He converted the birdie to shoot 2-under 68.

The Tar Heels finished stroke play in second at 18-under, five behind the Commodores and nine ahead of Notre Dame. Van Paris won the individual competition at 9-under.

Roberts played in the first match for UNC on the Old Course against Vanderbilt’s Ben Loomis. Down three strokes in the middle of the round, he fought back and had a chance to tie or even win the match on 18. But Loomis made a lengthy putt for par, and Roberts missed a birdie putt, giving Vanderbilt the first point.

Menante squared off against Van Paris and saw a large lead evaporate on the back nine. He hit a stellar wedge into the 18th, however, setting up a birdie to secure a half point. Fountain was tied in his match with Cole Sherwood after 13 holes, but Sherwood made two birdies over the last five to post 69 and beat him by three.

Greaser tied his match late but lost by one to a Wells Williams birdie on 18, while Poole struggled and lost by six strokes in the penultimate match. The only full point for the Tar Heels came from Maxwell Ford who shot 72 and won his match by four shots. 

The margin was fine for the Tar Heels. The difference on Wednesday was the two matches decided by a single shot on the Old Course’s famous 18th hole.

North Carolina will return to the States and wrap up its fall season next week at the East Lake Cup played this year at the Atlanta Athletic Club Oct. 31 through Nov. 1.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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