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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC men's golf wins East Lake Cup to notch third title of the fall; David and Maxwell Ford tie for second place

Ford ACC Rd 1 (Mead) 08.JPG
Then UNC sophomore David Ford hits the ball during the 2023 ACC Men's Golf Championship at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, N.C., on April 21, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Andy Mead/YCJ.

The UNC men’s golf team finished the fall season the same way it began it: ranked No. 1 and standing in the winner’s circle.

The Tar Heels won the East Lake Cup Wednesday at the Atlanta Athletic Club, defeating Georgia Tech and Florida State in match play to clinch the title. It marks their third victory of the fall in five starts. They had previously won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational in their first start and the Williams Cup in their third. The Atlanta Athletic Club is the home course of twins Maxwell and David Ford, and the juniors finished tied for second in the individual competition Monday at 3-under-par.

North Carolina’s lineup in Atlanta included the Fords, graduate Austin Greaser, graduate Kenan Poole and senior Peter Fountain. After reaching the final four in last season’s NCAA Championship, the Tar Heels competed against the three other semi finalists: Florida, Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Both Maxwell and David recorded bogey-free 33s on the inward side Monday to post 69. Maxwell Ford got a true member's bounce on the par-3 17th that helped to keep his back-nine scorecard clean. He mishit his tee shot, and it was destined for the water short of the green before bouncing high off the retaining wall and onto the surface. UNC finished the 18-hole stroke play portion of the event in second at 3-under and matched up against three seed Georgia Tech in the semifinals.

Fountain lost the first match 4-and-3, but David Ford and Greaser won the next two comfortably to give the Tar Heels a 2-1 lead. They needed to win one of the final two to advance to the finals. It was by no means easy.

The last two matches both went to extra holes. Poole played a back-and-forth match against second ranked amateur Christo Lamprecht, losing on the 21st hole. The Tar Heels’ hopes then hung on Maxwell Ford. 

He delivered. 

Down two with two to play, he came back to tie his match against the individual champion, Georgia Tech's Kale Fontenot. From left of the green and a tough, side-hill lie on 18, he hit a beautiful pitch (complete with a club twirl and wry smile) that set up birdie and won him the hole. 

He won the fourth playoff hole with the help of another exquisite short shot to see the Tar Heels advance.

Poole was three up after six holes in the first match Wednesday. That lead was gone, however, after he lost the next four. He went on to lose the match 3-and-2, and the Seminoles had the first point.

David Ford put the first Tar Heel point on the board with a commanding 4-and-3 victory. He was up only one on the 11th tee, but won the next three holes with birdie to take control. He made long putts at 11 and 13 and hit a great long iron into the 12th.

In the anchor spot, Fountain also won his match 4-and-3, walking in birdie putts left and right on the back nine. The Tar Heels were a point away.

Maxwell Ford got out to five hole lead after eight holes, but Luke Clanton came storming back for the Seminoles to tie the match on the back nine.

He was off the hook, however, thanks to Greaser. Up four with four to play, he needed to tie just one more hole to clinch the title for UNC. He lost 15 and 16.

“Kind of got a little bit into the future,” Greaser told Golf Channel’s John Cook after the match. “Just walking up there, I told myself ‘look we gotta get back into the present moment here. We gotta try to hit a good shot here and see if we can make putt.’”

He did just that.

After a safe tee shot on the par-3 17th, he rolled in a birdie putt from about 25 feet to win the match. 

The win marks the 15th UNC team championship with Greaser in the lineup. But his eyes are set on a different title, one of the national variety.

“Kind of reminiscing a little bit about last year, bringing a little bit of that hunger into this week, and fortunately we were able to get it done,” Greaser said to Cook. “But this isn’t the week we want to get it done. We just gotta keep working hard and doing what we’re doing.”

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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