Home Local Sports CHAPEL THRILL: Massey, UNC win PDGA’s D-II team national championship

CHAPEL THRILL: Massey, UNC win PDGA’s D-II team national championship

Mitchell Massey (second from left), a 2021 RSHS graduate, won the PDGA Division-II team national championship Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the College Disc Golf Facebook page.)

CHAPEL HILL — What started as a weekend and after-school hobby for Mitchell Massey has culminated into a national championship trophy.

Massey, a junior economics student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently won the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Division-II college team national title.

Along with teammates Luke Shehee, Jasper Tyll and Dylan Youngberg, Massey and the UNC A Team shot 28-under par and edged national runner-up the University of Dayton (-28) in a playoff hole.

Even more exciting for the 2021 graduate of Richmond Senior High School, Massey was the player who sank the 30-foot throw to take the Tar Heels to title town.

“In team play, we’re broken up into pairs,” Massey explained. “On the playoff hole, I was the second shot and Jasper had a really nice tee shot that gave me a chance from around 30 feet.

“Dayton was about 33 feet away and missed its putt,” he continued. “I just stepped up and gashed it in. I wasn’t really nervous because I’ve played a playoff hole before.

Of being on a national championship-winning team, Massey said “it feels pretty cool.”

Competing at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., the Tar Heels shot four rounds over four days, starting last Wednesday. They posted scores of 47 (-7), 65 (+11), 55 (+1) and 45 (-9).

After the first round, Massey and company were in a four-way tie for the championship lead at 7-under par. Also atop the leaderboard were the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin and UC Santa Cruz.

Round two’s score, which was the only singles round of the tournament that averaged all four players’ scores into one, dropped the Tar Heels into a tie with Cal Poly Humboldt for seventh place. 

Taking 10 throws off their round three score, they moved to 14-under as a team and were tied with Wisconsin, UNC Charlotte and Utah Valley University for fourth place.

Ahead of Saturday’s final round, Massey and his teammates discussed the real possibility they had of winning the whole event. They knew it would come down to executing putts.

A strong performance in the final round saw UNC, ranked No. 50 in the PDGA’s standings entering the tournament, shoot 9-under par to ice the national championship.

“We had a good first round and a decent singles round,” Massey, a PDGA member, shared. “And then we realized after the third round we had a chance to win.

“Our goal was to make as many putts as we could,” he added. “There were times earlier in the tournament we missed some putts inside of 30 feet. We knew we had to make those 30 to 35-foot putts, and when we did that in the final round, it gave us a lot of confidence.”

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While in high school, Massey bought a starter set of discs and began playing locally with his dad, John Massey, who as the assistant city manager of Rockingham had a role in developing the disc golf course at Hinson Lake.

Playing after school and on weekends with his friends and family, Massey said his interest and skill in the sport “progressed from there.”

Continuing to play once he arrived at college, it wasn’t long before Massey joined UNC’s disc golf club.

All of the playing time paid off for Massey, who helped bolster UNC’s title run with an ace on the 10th hole during the final round.

“It was about 290 feet (to the basket) and I was the second player on our team teeing off,” Massey recalled. “My teammate put his shot around 25 feet and that gave me a good idea of what I needed to do.

“I just threw it a little harder and needed it to skip around a tree. It was a good throw and it went right in.

“We’d been playing really well at that point, and after I hit the ace, it was all about putting together a strong second half,” he added. “That really gave us some good momentum.”

In the D-II singles tournament, Massey finished tied for 35th place with a final score of 62, 1-over par.

“I was driving really well in singles, especially on a course with a lot of water,” Massey said. “There were some puts I didn’t make and I could have finished better, but I’m happy with it.”

The national championship-winning team of Massey, Shehee, Tyll and Youngberg just missed out on qualifying for the Division-I tournament (based on qualifying tournaments and scores). 

With Massey and two of his three teammates returning next year, the bar will be set a little higher.

“Winning D-II was exciting, but our goal is to qualify for D-I next year,” Massey closed. “Hopefully we can make a run at that championship.”

Sports editor’s note: Martha Massey provided both videos used in this article.