When it comes to the best team in men’s college golf, Vanderbilt has staked an early claim.
But don’t forget about North Carolina.
The Tar Heels, Golf Channel’s preseason No. 1 (just ahead of the Commodores), got their fall off to a slow start, finishing third at the Fighting Irish Classic without senior Austin Greaser before getting back to full strength only to place 11th out of 15 teams at Olympia Fields. The schedule didn’t get any easier this week at Colonial, where North Carolina was among seven preseason top-10 teams in the field, including Vanderbilt.
The Tar Heels ended up beating them all, winning the Ben Hogan Collegiate on Tuesday by nine shots over Texas Tech. Vanderbilt rallied on the final day before ending up fifth, 14 shy of North Carolina and four back of Pepperdine and Arizona State, who tied for third.
North Carolina’s impressive performance included four players finishing in the top 15 – Greaser (T-3), David Ford (T-6), Dylan Menante (T-8) and Ryan Burnett (T-15). Greaser carded six birdies in his final 11 holes to fire a closing 4-under 66.
TCU’s Gustav Frimodt closed in 5-under 65 to win the individual title at 8 under, one stroke better than Pepperdine’s William Mouw, who also had himself a nice bounce-back this week.
Mouw tied for 60th at Olympia Fields as Pepperdine, which lost three starters from last season, finished 13th, ahead of only Northwestern and Army. Derek Hitchner chipped in a solo 14th for the Waves.
The Commodores’ late charge was led by reigning NCAA individual champion, sophomore Gordon Sargent, who closed in 4-under 66 to tie for third individually. No other Vandy player cracked the top 20 after the Commodores combined for eight individual top-20s in their first two events.
Oklahoma State, defending Colonial winner Stanford and reigning NCAA champ Texas finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Florida, which began its fall with a win and T-2, tied for ninth with TCU and Oregon as the Gators climbed five spots on Tuesday.
Oklahoma, playing without Patrick Welch (making his PGA Tour debut at the Shriners this week), tied for 12th, the Sooners’ worst team regular-season finish since the 2013 Southern Highlands Collegiate, where they were 15th.