Carolina’s Zaytoun emerges from ‘disaster’ – 17

Henry Zaytoun took a big number at the par-3 16th, but finished his round with determination.

BRYAN, Texas – Walking off the par-3, 16th green – his seventh hole in the second round of the NCAA South Central Regional last week at The Traditions Club – Henry Zaytoun knew his day was over.

There was no way the North Carolina junior from Raleigh was going to be a factor in his team’s scoring. That’s because he had just registered a 17 – that’s 14 over par – on the 190-yard hole.

“I told my parents they could go ahead and leave,’’ Zaytoun said afterwards. “There was not much left to watch.”

In fact, Zaytoun himself felt like leaving, maybe packing it in and becoming a Tar Heel cheerleader for the day.

Of course, that’s something he would never do. So he stayed and played. And give the young man a ton of credit. Even knowing he would be a non-counter, he played the final 11 holes with determination and pride.

Some players in this situation might mentally just give up, shoot 100 or whatever, and go off in a corner and hold a one-man pity party.

Not Zaytoun. He overcame the nightmare of all golfing nightmares, playing those final 11 holes in 1 over par, a tribute to what kind of player, what kind of person, he is.

Still, he had a smile on his face – what else can you do? – as he signed his scorecard. “I think I broke 90,” he said with a laugh. Actually, he shot 89.

“I’ve never come close to anything like this before and hopefully will never again,” Zaytoun said after completing the round. “It was unbelievable. Everything I did went wrong. It was a disaster with a capital D.”

It began when he snap-hooked his tee shot into a patch of tall reeds. He chopped out, but his ball hit a cart path and went out of bounds. Having to drop in the same spot, he again found himself in a mess of trouble.

“My club kept on catching on the reeds and I stayed in there for like three shots,” he said. “Then I hit it into the water – two, I don’t know, maybe three times. I can’t remember now. Finally I chipped backwards to a safe spot, hit it one onto the green and two-putted from about 20 feet.”

He had to make a 5-foot knee-knocker for the 17.

“I just have to put it all behind me. One hole is definitely not indicative of my golfing ability,’’ said Zaytoun, who came back the next day and shot a team-counting final round 76. North Carolina would finish 12th and fail to advance to next week’s NCAA Championship at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn.

As Zaytoun was exiting the scoring tent after that second round, the man who was the scorer and with the group all round, came up to him and told him he was proud of him, in that he didn’t quit, didn’t give up, and finished out with class.

Nothing could be more accurate. Zaytoun’s score for the day may have been a no-show, but his character was a star performer.

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