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Iadpluem, Smith lead UNC women's golf to top finish at St. Andrews Links Collegiate

Kayla Smith 1st Hole copy.JPG
Kayla Smith swings her golf club during the St Andrews Links Collegiate golf tournament in Scotland on Oct. 23, 2023. Photo Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.

To prepare for the frigid weather at the St. Andrews Links Collegiate, first-year Ing Iadpluem turned the air conditioning in her Granville Towers dorm room to 40 degrees.

She put on a big puffer coat and practiced her swings in Chapel Hill in preparation for the cold temperatures and biting winds of the courses she was about to face in Scotland.

Despite it being her first time in Europe, this method of preparation clearly worked for Iadpluem.

Fulfilling what she called a “dream come true,” Iadpluem set the women’s Jubilee Course record for a single round at the St. Andrews Links Collegiate last week. The North Carolina women's golf team finished first place, aided by fifth-year Kayla Smith's top-placing individual finish.

When UNC assistant coach Katherine Hamski told Iadpluem she had set a new record, the first-year almost didn’t believe her.

“I was like, ‘Huh, really?’” Iadpluem said.

Iadpluem had been dreaming of this moment since she started playing golf. Traditionally called the “home of golf,” St. Andrews Links boasts one of the oldest golf courses in the world.

Fittingly, the Jubilee Course that the invitational was played on is also one of the most difficult. With high-speed winds and piercing temperatures, it presents challenges for even the best of golfers.

“I just feel so lucky," Iadpluem said. "I had a chance to be there and compete as a UNC [athlete]. And even more, I just, like, [shot] so good."

While Iadpluem may have been surprised by her own success, head coach Aimee Neff was not.

“She's not only a worker, but she's a student," she said. "Anytime you're talking through things, she takes notes."

Although Iadpluem didn't come out the gate strong, she bounced back on day two. On day one, she shot an eight-over-par 80 and put her toward the bottom of the standings. She turned it around the next day, shooting four-under with a score of 68. 

“[I had] a lot of self-doubt on the first day," Iadpluem said. "So after the first day, to actually sit down and be like, ‘Hey, I shouldn't have that mindset [of] self-doubt on the course. I'm just gonna go out there and enjoy [and] control what I can, and just enjoy what has happened.'"

On day one of the invitational, Smith shot a three-under-par 69 which tied the same record that Iadpluem broke on day two. Smith went on to finish the invitational in first place — the second first-place victory of her collegiate career. 

“As a kid, you always dream of yourself like getting there and playing there,” Smith said. “And not only like, in a fun fashion, but then for us to be able to play there competitively was an insane dream come true, for sure.”

The first-place finish for the Tar Heels was their first overall victory of the season. The team is currently transitioning into its off-season, as the St. Andrews Links Collegiate was the last match for the Tar Heels until the spring season begins in February.

“I think it's definitely great to see how all of us were able to put it together and obviously win overseas – at the course that we did – and [to] take this momentum into the spring,” Smith said. 

During the three-month break, Neff and her coaching staff will look at what each player needs to individually prepare for the coming spring season that begins in February.

Maybe, for Iadpluem, preparation will continue to involve a big puffer coat and a freezing cold dorm room.

@aplancaster_

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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