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Men’s Golf: Team heads south and west for tournaments

Joe Quinn | Friday, March 10, 2006

Notre Dame will spend its spring break in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Laredo, Texas, where the team will partake in two tournaments over the weeklong break.

The Irish will play in the General Jim Hackler Invitational Sunday and Monday and then head west to Laredo to participate in the Border Olympics March 17 and 18.

With one tournament under its belt this spring, Irish coach Jim Kubinski feels good about his team’s chances.

“I’m expecting the guys to play very improved golf down in Myrtle Beach,” Kubinski said. “This is a good course for us – it really suits our game. You have to drive well and putt well, and I think that should play in our favor.”

The Irish have finished in the top-6 in five of their six tournaments this year, but Kubinski said they have a lot of room for improvement.

“We still haven’t played our A-game yet. We’re the most consistent team, but we’re not consistently at the top,” he said. “If we can start playing like we know we can, we can get in that top-three or four, which is where we should be.”

If the Irish want to finish in the top three this weekend, they will have to beat some of the top teams from around the country.

“This is an excellent field [of teams],” Kubinski said. “You have district teams like Michigan State and Illinois and then a conference team like Louisville – teams that are consistently in the Top-25.”

But Kubinski is not scared of the competition. In fact, he’s looking forward to seeing where the Irish stack up.

“This tournament should give us a very good feel of where we are compared to the Top-25 and also in comparison to other Big East schools,” said Kubinski, whose Irish finished first in last year’s Big East Championship.

After completion of the General Jim Hackler Invitational on Monday, the Irish will get a short three-day break before the start of the Border Olympics in Laredo. While the level of competition there isn’t as high as that of Hackler Invitational, Kubinski said there’s one team he is very excited about facing.

“We get to rematch Baylor, who is in the Top-10 and [beat us earlier this year],” Kubinski said. “We beat them in the NCAA [Regional tournament] last year, so this will be the rubber match and hopefully we come out on top.”

Kubinski said if the Irish are able to come out on top in Laredo, it will depend on their ability to sink birdie putts.

“This is a different golf course [than Myrtle Beach],” he said. “There are going to be a lot of low scores, so if we want to win we’re going to have to sink a number of birdies.”

Kubinski will change up the lineup a bit to utilize the experience of some of his seniors, including Eric Deutsch.

“He has played there a number of times, so he will bring some much needed experience to our team,” Kubinski said of Deutsch.

While Kubinski is hopeful that inserting Deutsch in the lineup will give the Irish the bump they need, he is also counting on the improved play of two of his other players – senior Scott Gustafson and sophomore Mike King.

“Scott has just had a great week of practice,” Kubinski said. “You just get that feeling that he is ready to play fantastic golf. And Mike seems to be getting closer and closer to taking that next step to being the consistent golfer both he and I know he is capable of being.”