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Preview: Men's golf team looks to make history with trip to NCAA tournament

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 is on the brink of history.

It is difficult to avoid melodrama. Everything has led to this chance — maybe the best chance the program has ever had to win its first national championship.

The Tar Heels will head to Carlsbad, Calif. where they will begin play in the NCAA Championship on Friday at the newly redesigned Omni La Costa Resort North Course. Thirty teams will compete in three days of stroke play, and the top 15 will advance to a fourth day when an individual champion will be crowned. From there, the top eight teams will advance to match play with quarterfinals and semifinals taking place on Tuesday, May 28 and the finals on Wednesday, May 29. 

North Carolina punched a ticket to Carlsbad by finishing third at the Chapel Hill Regional last week, marking the seventh consecutive time the Tar Heels advanced from regionals. As the No. 3 seed, they will look to make it four straight seasons advancing to match play in the NCAA Championship. Last season, UNC lost in the semifinals to Georgia Tech

To prepare for the NCAA Championship, here are some notes on each player in the Tar Heels’ lineup. 

Maxwell Ford

A Georgia transfer and a junior, Ford finished tied for 18th in last year’s NCAA Championship as a Bulldog. In his first tournament as a Tar Heel in the fall at Olympia Fields, he made an eagle on his first hole and went on to finish solo second. Ford finished tied for second in the East lake Cup at his home club, the Atlanta Athletic Club, and is undefeated in match play this season with a 3-0-1 record. 

A big reason Ford transferred to UNC was to play with his brother, David. The two identical twins grew closer while apart at different schools through a Zoom Bible study they started together. Ford realized his brother is someone he operates really well with. He trusted that if UNC was great for David, it would be right for him too.

Dylan Menante

The NCAA Championship will be a homecoming for Carlsbad native Menante with La Costa being his home club. The fifth-year previously won the national championship with Pepperdine in 2021 and earned West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors in the same season. He is 4-2-1 in match play at the NCAA Championship, including a six-and-five rout of now number one amateur in the world, Georgia Tech’s Christo Lamprecht last year.

Menante was part of the United States' winning Walker Cup Team in St Andrews last fall and earned the bronze medal representing the United States at the 2023 Pan Am Games in Chile. 

He enters this year’s NCAA Championship with not as many accolades, having finished tied for 40th in the ACC Championship and tied for 32nd in the Chapel Hill Regional.

Peter Fountain

Fountain started the fall season struggling and out of the Tar Heels’ lineup altogether. By spending countless time on his short game, Fountain entered the lineup once again in October. His first tournament back was the St Andrews Links Collegiate in which he finished third. All the work culminated in Charlotte at the ACC Championship where the senior finished tied for eighth individually and sunk a putt to clinch the team title for the Tar Heels in the championship match against Florida State. 

The 2021 ACC Champion and two-time All-ACC honoree has posted seven sub-70 rounds in his last 10. He finished tied for 13th in the NCAA Championship his first season but has since posted finishes of tied for 71st in 2022 and tied for 36th in 2023.

David Ford

Ford is North Carolina’s all-time leader in stroke average, a two-time All American and the 2023 ACC Player of the Year. He made the winning putt for the United States at the Walker Cup while under the weather and won the Williams Cup in a playoff this season for his second collegiate victory.

But the junior said after finishing tied for 34th at the Chapel Hill Regional that his game hasn’t been great over the past few months and that he needed to work harder. He said he wants to play freely in Carlsbad.

Ford has found success in the NCAA Championship, finishing tied for fifth in 2022 and tied for 22nd last season. He has a perfect 3-0-0 record in match play. 

Austin Greaser

Greaser, a finalist for the 2024 Haskins Award and only the second Tar Heel to earn four All-ACC honors, is the Tar Heels’ leader and the hottest player in the lineup. He’s coming off his third collegiate victory and second NCAA regional title at the Chapel Hill Regional, sinking a long birdie putt on the 18th hole to win by a stroke.

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Greaser said after missing a playoff at the ACC Championship by one that he’s pleased with where his game is and that he feels it is peaking at the right time.

He finished tied for 11th in last year’s NCAA Championship but has struggled in match play with a 1-2-1 record. He will look to carry the momentum of the regional victory out west and continue peaking in Carlsbad.

@dthsports |