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MEN’S GOLF: Alabama awaits Irish for Shoal Creek play

Bobby Griffin | Friday, September 23, 2005

After a fifth-place finish in the Gopher Invitational, the Irish will travel to Birmingham, Ala. today to participate in the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate, an event that will be played on Sunday and Monday.

Seniors Scott Gustafson, Mark Baldwin and Eric Deutsch, junior Cole Isban, and sophomore Greg Rodgers will make the trip this weekend for the Irish.

“I haven’t actually been [to Shoal Creek],” Isban said. “But it’s hosted a PGA championship, and it’s supposed to be a phenomenal place. It’s supposed to be pretty tough so it should be a great test.

“No matter if the course makes the scores higher or not you definitely just want to play great courses, and this is definitely one of them.”

Notre Dame will be competing against an impressive field that includes Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, SMU and Georgia State.

“Alabama and Florida would be the two teams, as well as SMU, that would be the most talented teams,” Isban said.

“But I don’t think we really approach it as watching out for the teams, we’re just gonna down there and play our best.”

Notre Dame’s success will rest on how well the Irish putt this weekend, and how smart they play when it comes to attacking holes.

“Obviously an adjustment to the green becomes more crucial with the trickiness of the greens,” Isban said. “You have to focus on being attentive to that. Essentially it’s just finding the best way to know when to attack a certain hole and when to lay off.”

The Irish anticipated a better finish in their first tournament of the season when they traveled to Minnesota for the Gopher Invitational, but difficulty adjusting on the first day made it difficult for the Irish to recover in the second and third rounds.

This week, that should not be a problem. Isban attributed the adjustment to several factors, all of which were out of the team’s control.

The practice round was not productive because of the team’s delayed flight, the absence of a putting green and the fatigue that comes along with a three-hour sleep. It was also the team’s first round of the season.

“I think it will be a lot better this time,” Isban said. “I don’t think we should anticipate a problem like that again.

“No matter what happens travel wise, we will have plenty of time to prepare.”

Despite Isban’s first-round 80 in Minnesota, he is confident heading into this tournament, excited that he has been hitting the ball well and knowing what he needs to do to keep his scores low.

“For myself, I’m hitting the ball pretty well and have no reason why I shouldn’t expect to compete for the win as long as we get a good practice round in and get well adjusted,” Isban said.