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Men’s Golf: Golfers ready to swing away at Lexus Naples Intercollegiate

Joe Quinn | Monday, February 27, 2006

Four months ago, the Notre Dame men’s golf team was disqualified from the CordeValle Collegiate. But today, the Irish kick off the spring season when they travel to Naples, Fla. to take part in the Lexus Naples Intercollegiate.

The Irish, ranked No. 46 in the country according to Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, are excited to get back to competition.

“We’ve been hitting balls in Loftus since January, but I think the guys are excited to get back out there,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said, who is entering his second full year as Irish head coach. While some might worry about rust after such a long layoff, Kubinski feels his team is ready to go.

“We had a few guys spend some time out in Arizona [over Christmas break], and we also had the Alumni match down in Sarasota, Fla. which helped a lot,” Kubinski said.

If the Irish can knock off the rust from this four-month hiatus, it should bode well for the 2006 spring season.

Although they’re ranked just No. 46 in the country, Kubinski feels they have Top 20 potential.

“We played B-golf during the fall season and still finished in the top six in all our tournaments,” he said. “If we can get up to our A-game, I think we can beat anyone in the country.”

Kubinski has reason to be optimistic, as Notre Dame beat a number of ranked teams during the fall season, including a victory over No. 3 Florida in the Shoal Creek Invitational in September.

While Notre Dame has been able to best some of the higher ranked teams this year, Kubinski wants to get the team playing at a more consistent level.

“[We need] a forth consistent player that can supplement Cole [Isban], Mark [Baldwin] and Scott [Gustafson],” he said.

The opportunity to become that fourth consistent scorer will be given to sophomores Mike King and Greg Rodgers, and if they can step up, Kubinski feels the Irish will go far this year.

“I feel that Cole, Mark [Baldwin] and Scott are all playing really solid, and I would put them against any other players in the country,” Kubinski said. “If King and Rodgers can step up and post a really good score, we can come back on Tuesday with a victory.”

While Kubinski said the overall level of competition in this tournament is not as strong compared to the teams Notre Dame faced in the fall season, he feels it will show where the Irish are in relation to other top teams.

“While it’s not the strongest field we’ve faced this year, playing teams like Wake Forest (No. 21), Florida State (No. 38) and Baylor (No. 20) – there’s enough good competition that we can see where we are relative to some of the best in the country,” he said.”

And while individual members may have personal goals for this tournament, Kubinski says the team as a whole has just one.

“We just want to get out there and compete and come back with a victory,” he said.