Carter Graf was the first of his teammates into the clubhouse, forcing him to wait, watch and do a little mental math.
As his fellow North Carolina State Wolfpack golfers rolled in, they joined in on the scoreboard watching.
They needed a top-five finish at the NCAA Men’s Golf Kingston Springs Regional in Tennessee, to book a spot in the NCAA National Championship.
“When I got off the golf course and realized that it was really close between us making it and not making it. It was pretty stressful watching the guys come in,” said the Sylvan Lake native.
With an even-par day as a team Wednesday and a three-under score overall through the 54-hole event, Graf and the Wolfpack tied for fourth and punched a ticket to the biggest stage in college golf.
“It was pretty stressful for all of us but it was a pretty good feeling when we knew we had it locked up,” Graf said.
“It was a great feeling. We’ve had a great year so we kind of feel like we deserve to be there and that we can really compete and go a long way in the NCAAs. We were happy and excited to have the opportunity to do something really cool.”
Graf admittedly didn’t have his best showing this week, posting a 72-74-76 for a three-round total of 222, which had him tied for 51st.
“It was more of a struggle than I’ve had so far this spring. I didn’t have my best stuff this week. At the end of the day, the team kinda had my back. I was still able to contribute with a few scores, it wasn’t my best week,” he said.
That leaves plenty of room for him to step up next Friday when the Wolfpack try to best some of the best golf teams in the United States.
“I’m ready to get to work and get ready to play at nationals,” he said.
The NCAA Division I tournament is a 54-hole event with 30 teams from across the United States, followed by the top 15 qualifying for another 18. After that, the top eight teams entering a match play event to determine the national champion.
It doesn’t hurt that most of his teammates have been there before– they’ve told the Sophmore to try and treat it like just another tournament.
“At the end of the day, it’s really all about treating it the same. We’re all going to go out there and have fun and be grateful for being there,” he said.
“At the same time, it’s the same job– it’s still golf, it’s still 18 holes regardless of the tournament.”
Graf said their aim as a team is to get into that top 8 and see if they can bring home a title to North Carolina.
“If you make it into match play, then you’re in a spot to make something special happen. That’s the plan,” Graf said.