Saturday, March 2, 2024

UNC women’s golf finishes first at UCF Challenge

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To prepare for its spring season, the North Carolina women’s golf coaching staff set a challenge for their team. 

The challenge involved players starting their putts at the front of six tees at the newly-renovated Finley Golf Club. In order to advance, each individual player had to shoot the round under par. 

This kind of preparation proved to be just what the team needed to bring home first place in the UCF Challenge, the first event of the spring season. The Tar Heels finished with a total of 18 strokes under-par and two top-10 placements in sophomore Megan Streicher and graduate student Kayla Smith.

Streicher had the hot hand for North Carolina on Day One, setting the all-time 18-hole school record in round one with four consecutive birdies and a round score of 8-under 64. Her final score of 7-under par landed her in a tie for fourth place at the match’s conclusion. 

“You know birdieing half the holes is insane, but it’s the combination when things just click and you’re hitting the ball well,” head coach Aimee Neff said. “[Streicher] just capitalized and really made the most of the round.” 

Feeling frustrated they did not swing more under par, the rest of the team went into Day Two knowing that they could play better. First-year Reagan Southerland kept the Tar Heels in the lead by tying her season-best of 3-under par. Smith and first-year Ing Iadpluem added a pair of 2-under 70s.

“[Smith] just has a calmness knowing that she’s played in a lot of different tournaments [and] in a lot of different conditions,” Neff said. “You kind of feel like Kayla’s gonna find a way to figure out some sort of scoring in whatever field we play.”

On Day Three, North Carolina completed its victory as sophomore Vilde Nystrøm shot 1-under 71 for the second day in a row. Smith shot 2-under, and Streicher 1-over.

This victory is the second of the 2023-24 women’s golf season, and the program’s third under Neff. The head coach said there is more work to be done to reach the team’s goal of winning the ACC Championship. The win over 17 other teams reminds the Tar Heels that they can hold their own against elite competition. UNC will travel again to Florida to participate in the Spartan Sun Coast Invitational on Feb. 18.

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