North Carolina Tar Heels men’s golf saw their season end on Tuesday, when they lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. Despite that, it was an excellent season for the Heels, seeing them, for the second consecutive year, match their best national finish since 1993.
After finishing second in Regionals, UNC finished tied for first in the stroke play portion of the NCAA Tournament, getting the #3 seed in the match play knockout portion of the championship. There, they fell to the #6 seed and reigning national champions Pepperdine 3-2, in a battle that went down to the final couple holes. David Ford and Austin Greaser won their particular matches, but the team fell just short of advancing to the semifinals.
Despite the loss, it’s another step in a good direction for the golf program and fifth-year coach Andrew DiBitetto. Prior to his arrival, UNC had not finished in the top ten nationally since 2003. In finishing tied for fifth this year, the program not has it’s eighth even top five finish, and just the second (the first was last year) since the 1990s.
Individually, Ryan Burnett came close to winning a national championship, falling just short in a four-way playoff for the individual men’s crown. Ford just missed out and also getting into that playoff, falling just one shot short, tying for fifth. It was the first time two Tar Heels have finished top five together, while Burnett finishing second is the best individual result for a Carolina golfer since John Inman won the national title in 1984.
It’s hard not to look at UNC men’s golf and not think that things are going in a good direction. They checked off a whole lot of “firsts since year x” this season, and will hopefully check off even more in the coming years.