In its first team competition since March 2020, the UNC women’s golf team competed against 17 other schools Sunday through Tuesday in Melbourne, Fla. in the Moon Golf Invitational. North Carolina finished the tournament in 14th place with a total score of 885.
On the first day of the contest, play on the par-72 course at Duran Golf Club was delayed two hours due to weather. Once the tournament started, the Tar Heels scored 11-over-par to get a 299. This placed them at 13th and tied them with Coastal Carolina, while South Carolina took first place with a score of 280.
North Carolina sophomore Kayla Smith stood out on day one with a 15th-place finish after finishing 1-under-par. First-year Natalia Aseguinolaza, originally from Spain, made her North Carolina women’s golf debut with a score of 76, good for 4-over-par. Meanwhile, first-year Nicole Adam put up a 3-over-par score of 75 in her own start as a Tar Heel.
“The first-years showed a great deal of promise and they will both be in the lineup when we leave this weekend for our next event,” head coach Jan Mann said.
On the second day of competition, North Carolina finished with a 1-over-par score of 289 to stay in 13th overall, while South Carolina held onto first place.
Sophomore Krista Junkkari took the spotlight on the second day when she scored a 2-under-par score of 70 and had five birdies to improve her standing to T-47.
Meanwhile, Smith shot a 73, good for 1-over, to remain in the highest individual place for North Carolina at T-29. The rest of the team improved their scores from the first round, and the Tar Heels had 14 total birdies on the day.
On the final day of the invitational, North Carolina sunk to 14th place after scoring a 297. Junkkari and Adam both finished the event with scores of 73, the best of the day for North Carolina.
Who stood out?
Smith stood out again at the Moon Golf Invitational after finishing in the top-15 last year at the same tournament. Smith started in 15th place after five straight pars on day one and held the top spot for North Carolina the whole tournament.
Junkkari started the tournament shooting 5-over par, but had the best performance for North Carolina on the second day after finishing 2-under-par to improve her position.
When was it decided?
North Carolina didn’t start the tournament strongly enough to put itself in position for a possible comeback later, instead falling to 14th place on the final day. Despite impressive moments from Smith and Junkkari, the team lacked the consistency needed to prove dangerous to the rest of the competition pool.
Why does it matter?
This was North Carolina’s first team competition in almost a year, so it served as a way for the team to size itself up against ACC opponents like Virginia, Florida State, Miami and Louisville.
“We were excited to compete, but it was evident that there were some nerves after such a long layoff,” Mann said.
The young North Carolina team will look to gain experience and find its rhythm after so much time off as it prepares for its next contest.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will compete in the Palmetto Spring Invitational on Feb. 21 and 22 in Charleston, S.C.
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