Carolina women’s golf returns to competition for the second time this season under the direction of the first-year head coach Aimee Neff at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational presented by Tyson Foods.
The unique format features men’s and women’s teams from 10 programs playing two tournaments on the same course over the same three days at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, Ark., Site of the 2019 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships.
The Tar Heel men’s and women’s teams are joined by host schools Arkansas and Arizona, Houston, Illinois, Louisville, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas Tech and UCLA.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all three days with pre-tour coverage at 3:30 p.m. and live action from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
UNC is ranked No. 22 in the country by Golfweek, which ranks junior Krista junkkari 5th in the country and junior Kayla smith No. 76.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our program,” says Neff. “Having this tournament aired daily on the Golf Channel allows people around the world to see just how talented college golf is and we can’t wait to show what Carolina can do. We look forward to this unique format and we also count alongside our men’s team. “
Carolina tied for fifth with a score of 3 under 861 at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, SC in mid-September.
Junkkari set UNC records for 18 holes (65 in the first round) and 36 holes (65-67-132 in the first two rounds) and tied school records for 54 holes (12-under 204). The native of Elimäki, Finland, finished second, her best result as a Tar Heel.
Two other Tar Heels set personal bests with heats in the 60s. Second year Natalia Aseguinolaza got a 68 in the second round and Smith got a 67 without a bogey in the final round.
Junkkari, Smith and Aseguinolaza are joined in training in Arkansas by sophomore Crista Izuzquiza and first year student Stephanie Kim, who is making his university debut.
“Our players have worked very hard over the past two weeks to prepare for the Blessings,” said Neff. “I was really impressed with their extra effort to get more reps, to do extra work on their chipping and putting. I can’t wait to see how their extra work pays off this week.”
Eight of the 10 teams participating in the Blessings Invitational are ranked by Golfweek in the top 50, including No.5 from Arkansas, No.15 from Arizona, No.22 UNC, No.24 from Illinois and # 26 from Texas Tech.
The Blessings is one of three October starts for the Tar Heels. UNC hosts Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Intercollegiate at the UNC Finley Golf Course October 15-17 and participates in Landfall Tradition in Wilmington October 29-31.