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Men’s Golf: Squad looks to prove itself at Fighting Irish Classic

Douglas Farmer | Monday, October 5, 2009

The Irish will try to defend their home course today when the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic tees off at Warren Golf Course.

In the fourth year of the annual tournament, Notre Dame (18-9) will compete against 14 other teams, including 2008 Classic champion and NCAA runner-up Arkansas. In order to beat the No. 20 Razorbacks, the Irish will need to be at their best, which Irish coach Jim Kubinski said is a possibility.

“The guys are playing really well, and have practiced well this week,” Kubinski said. “They are definitely prepared. We have put a lot of time in this week, even though it is our golf course.”

Not only has Notre Dame prepared well, but there will be extra motivation in this tournament, Kubinski said.

“There is a little extra motivation to come out here, on the heels of a great football win yesterday,” he said. “The guys are excited and I know they have some friends and family coming in, so they want to put on a good show.”

After finishing second in the initial Classic, Notre Dame slipped to 8th and then 15th out of 15 teams last year. Kubinski attributed the disappointing last place showing to a void in leadership of the Irish.

“[The last place finish] came after learning that Josh Sandman, then our lone senior and captain, would not be playing for us the whole year,” he said. “The guys really did not know who the leader was going to be, who was going to step up and play well, or who was going to be in the number one position.”

This year, if the Irish have similar questions, it is due to an abundance of leadership. Sandman returned to the team for a fifth year, and he, along with seniors Doug Fortner and Carl Santos-Ocampo, has led the Irish to a fifth place finish at the Gopher Invitational and a sixth place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship already this year.

“Now we are a year older and wiser and of course Josh is back playing for us,” Kubinski said. “I think everyone is comfortable and confident.”

The two-day, 54-hole tournament begins Monday at 9 a.m. with 36 holes. The final round will be played Tuesday, and Notre Dame hopes to prove a point to its competition by the end of it.

“The guys feel like they are one of the best teams in the country, and are preparing to show everyone,” Kubinski said.