The UNC women’s golf team finished third out of 13 teams at the Texas A&M event “‘Mo’Morial” after posting the lowest team score of the tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
After just nine holes Tuesday morning, the Tar Heels were in a terrible position. They had fought their way through the first few holes and were almost in last place after putting massive numbers on the board. Junior Crista Izuzquiza had carded two double bogies in her first five holes and first year Vilde Nystrøm had two double bogies and a triple bogey in her first 10 holes.
After that difficult start to the three-round event, it was the Tar Heels’ mental toughness and resilience that pushed them through to mitigate the early mistakes of the first round.
Despite her rocky starts, Nystrøm finished her last eight holes in under par and Izuzquiza did not record another double bogey for the rest of the tournament. Izuzquiza hit a final round of 69 on Wednesday to move up 28 places in the individual standings, a key to the team’s success in the finals.
During Tuesday’s second round, UNC’s team score improved a whopping 20 strokes, tying Texas for the day’s low round. That momentum continued into round three Wednesday as the team shot the day’s low round to 280, beating home team Texas A&M by eight shots that round.
UNC finished the tournament in third place with a score of four under par. The Tar Heels tied or beat winning team Texas A&M in the last two rounds, but couldn’t quite overcome early errors in the first round.
Who stood out?
Two older players, Kayla Smith and Krista Junkkari, finished in the top five at the tournament, with Smith becoming lowly medalists. Smith’s finals finish of four-under 68 pushed her up five places overall – overtaking players from Florida and Texas A&M to bring her three-day total to nine-under-par 207.
Smith and Junkkari’s pair of 68s on the last lap propelled the team to third place and a weak round of the event. Both players remained stable and consistent throughout the event, neither scoring a round above a one-over-73.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels were nine under ten to twelve holes at the beginning of the final round on Wednesday. Despite such strong play, the team struggled to close the gap on eventual winners Texas A&M as A&M beat them by 16 shots in round one.
The team’s strong result was decided by their unmatched play in the second and third rounds, but with slightly better performances in the first round they could have equaled or defeated a strong Texas A&M home team.
Why does it matter?
Although this event was only the second of the season for UNC, the Tar Heels have a busy schedule for the month of October. The team will compete in 3 multi-day events including the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational which they will be hosting in Chapel Hill.
After scoring in the mid-290s and 280s at last week’s Cougar Classic and finishing 16th out of 18 less competitive teams, the Tar Heels rebounded. Early successful tournaments and rounds like this will be crucial in building team morale and confidence over the next busy 4 weeks of the fall season.
When are you playing next?
The Tar Heels travel to Springfield, NJ in the second week of October to compete at the Baltusrol Golf Course.
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