A trio of Triad golfers were ranked in the top 100 of the women’s and men’s NCAA Division I rankings after the fall season, with Wake Forest and North Carolina No. 1 in the team rankings.
Freshman Macy Pate of Wake Forest (pictured) was No. 43 and former Reagan High teammate Morgan Ketchum of Virginia Tech was No. 92 in the women’s rankings. Former Eastern Alamance golfer Nick Mathews, a redshirt junior, at N.C. State, was No. 97 in the men’s rankings.
Wake Forest dominated opponents in the fall with four players high in the rankings and three team victories against elite completion. Caroline Chacarra was No. 9, Mimi Rhodes was No. 30 and Rachel Kuehn was No. 36.
The Demon Deacons won a 15-team tournament hosted by the University of Oklahoma as well as the Jackson T. Stephens Cup (beating Texas in the match-play title match) in Dallas, and finished third out of 15 at the Annika (Sorenstam) Invitational in Minnesota, and fourth of 15 in the Windy City Classic in Chicago.
Pate, the two-time reigning N.C. and Carolinas Junior Girls Player of the Year, finished in the top 25 of all four 54-hole events, and was second in stroke play in a field of 20 in the East Lake Cup. She was 3-1 in match play, including the title-clinching victory against Texas at the Stephens Cup.
Pate, who moved to Winston-Salem for high school after growing up in Boone, achieved national fame by shooting 14-under 57 for Reagan in a conference tournament in 2021 at Bermuda Run West.
While Pate and Wake won the team title at Oklahoma, it was Ketchum who earned medalist honors, shooting 9-under-par 201. She also finished 19th in a strong 15-team, 90-player, national field at Landfall Club in Wilmington and finished 29th in an event hosted by UNC and 32nd in a tournament at Michigan State.
Chacarra led the team with a 69.22 stroke average with Rhodes at 70.38 and Pate and Kuehn at 70.62.
On the men’s side, UNC was dominant with a 42-4 record with victories at the University of Illinois, a match-play title at the East Lake Cup and a triumph in a the Tar Heels’ tournament at Eagle Point in Wilmington. UNC also finished second at the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitation in Fort Worth, Texas, one stroke behind Vanderbilt.
Brothers David and Maxwell Ford of UNC, were No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in the individual rankings.
Mathews was in the top 18 of each of his four tournaments, with his best finish, a sixth-place showing at Michigan State. He had an even-par 72 average in the fall.
His sister, Emily Mathews, a freshman at Virginia Tech, was No. 157 in the women’s rankings.
UNC Greensboro senior Symon Balbin from Pinehurst was No. 73 in the men’s rankings.
Due to problems with stat and rankings provider Spikemark, which replaced Golfstat in compiling the rankings, the first lists were not posted until mid-November. Spikemark also tweaked the formula, using player stats entering the event to weigh the field and assign point values for the tournaments.
Another prominent N.C. golfer, Caleb Surratt of Indian Trail, near Charlotte, was No. 21 in the men’s rankings playing for Tennessee.
Kyle Haas, the son of Wake men’s coach Jerry Haas, compiled a 73 stroke average playing in three fall events for the Deacons.
The highlight of the season for the Deacons was a tie for first with Missouri in a 15-team tournament outside Chicago with Michael Brennan earning medalist honors, his seventh collegiate victory.
The Wake women’s team may have the opportunity to play the NCAA regionals at Bermuda Run East before an expected trip to the NCAA Championships at La Costa Country Club in Carlsbad, California.
The UNC men could play in a regional on their home layout, Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, to qualify for the men’s NCAA Championships, also at La Costa.
The NCAA men’s and women’s regionals are held at six regional sites. Though the NCAA tries to balance the fields, the top-seeded teams are generally rewarded with assignments near their campus.