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Men’s Golf: Championships loom large

Chris Masoud | Friday, April 16, 2010

In a game where the ability to control one’s emotions is paramount, the Irish have reaped the rewards of maintaining their composure this season. But under the surface, a competitive drive fuels Notre Dame as they prepare for the Big East championships Sunday.

“Obviously kids come to Notre Dame for the education, the experience, but they come to play for championships,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “That’s the opportunity we have this weekend, and we’re excited.”

Notre Dame is coming off one of its closest victories of the year, a 292-298 win against Detroit Mercy Wednesday in the Battle at the Warren. The Irish received contributions up and down the lineup, a good sign for a team hitting its stride in the final stretch of the season.

“In the spring season we’re absolutely playing our best golf right now. I like the way our short game has been of late, we’re really coming around,” Kubinski said. “It should really fit us assuming we go down there with a good mental mindset and just play well.”

The tournament will be played on Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a traditionally difficult course that can quickly expose any weaknesses in a golfer’s game. Kubinski said he believes the ability to drive the ball off the tee will be key in setting the Irish up for success this weekend.

“It’s a very challenging golf course, very long,” Kubinski said. “We’re going to play probably at 7,300 to 7,400 yards. You’re going to have to obviously drive it well there. It’s like any tournament, you have to follow up, but on that golf course length will definitely be a factor.”

The Irish are led by senior Doug Fortner and sophomore Tom Usher, who both carded the lowest score of the day Wednesday at 69. Fifth-year senior Josh Sandman is also an important contributor who brings a level head and much needed playoff experience to the squad.

In addition to the talent on the links, the Irish have an additional factor working in their factor.

“Every year Phil Mickelson has won the Masters, we win the Big East, so it’s a good omen,” Kubinski said. “If that means anything, we’ll take it.”

The Irish tee off in the Big East championships Tuesday in Palm Harbor, Fla. The tournament concludes Tuesday.