Seth Gandy has played in his share of big tournaments during high school and junior golf.
Now that he’s in college, Gandy finally got a chance to compete on a bigger stage, and against tougher competition.
Gandy, a sophomore on UNC Charlotte’s men’s golf team, was one of five players who competed in the NCAA national championships, May 29-June 1 in Bradenton, Fla.
Charlotte, which had qualified for the nationals by winning the Chapel Hill Regional by five shots two weeks earlier – the first regional title in program history, finished 22nd at the NCAA championships.
“What a great run that these guys made,” Charlotte head coach Ryan Cabbage said in a prepared release. “I hate that today didn’t work out the way we wanted it to by jumping into that top 15 with a chance to get into match play, but I’m extremely proud of these guys and what they’ve been able to accomplish.”
Gandy, who played at Hough High, shot a 13-over-par 229 during the three rounds at The Concession Golf Club. That was good for third-best among the 49ers’ five players, and tied for 94th overall.
“The course was super tough,” Gandy said. “The wind was blowing a little bit too, so that factored into it a little bit. Obviously, we were going to have a little bit of nerves, playing in an NCAA championship.
“Still, we were on the bubble, and didn’t play our best. It was a great experience, though.”
Charlotte was tied for 14th after the opening round, and sitting 13th after the second round. The top 15 teams after the third round would advance to the fourth and final round of stroke play, after which the top eight teams would move on to match play rounds.
The 49ers were on the verge of making the cut, but got off to a bad start to open the third round, which was cut short because of bad weather that forced players to return the following morning to complete the round.
“We were in OK shape,” Gandy said. “The first two rounds were decent, but that third round, we didn’t play too well. We started the round and played about 12 or 13 holes, then had the weather delay and had to come back the next morning.
“We definitely didn’t get off to the best start on those first 12 holes, and that hurt us.”
However, Gandy is already thinking ahead to next year.
Charlotte loses just one senior, Raoul Menard, from the five who played in this year’s NCAA championships. Of the four returning starters, two will be seniors (Riley Davenport, who competed for the NCAA individual championship; and Thomas Rowland). Gandy will be a junior, as will No. 1 player Victor Wiggins.
“There’s no reason why we can’t be back next year,” Gandy said. “Four of the five returning players were in the nationals. We got a taste of what it feels like to play in the NCAA championships, so we want to work towards that again. We want to get back there pretty bad.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.