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Men’s Golf: Hoyas edge Irish for title

Chris Masoud | Thursday, April 22, 2010

The difference between first and second place can often be traced to one shot over the course of an entire match that dictated the final outcome. For Notre Dame, that moment came on a final putt at the 18th hole in the last round of the Big East championship.

With the title on the line, Georgetown’s Vincenzo Salina drained an eight-foot par putt to give the Hoyas a one-shot victory and seal a second-place finish for the Irish.

“Obviously a tough, tough finish down there at Innisbrook,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “They just did a great job. They fought so hard, showed so much heart and guts, and they just hung in there. I was really proud of the way we finished.”

Entering the final round of play in fifth place, eight strokes behind Georgetown, the Irish mounted a tremendous comeback just to put themselves in position to take home the title. Led by sophomore Tom Usher’s 2-under 69, Notre Dame turned in the lowest score of the tournament at 286.

The comeback was necessitated by a dismal first round score of 299, a product of heavy rains and soggy turf that plagued the first pairings of the day.

“It was a tough break getting paired in the early pairing by a blind draw on Sunday,” Kubinski said. “We played almost nine holes in pouring rain. After that we played better than anybody. It was just dumb luck, just chance that we went out early in the rain and they [Hoyas] didn’t have to do that and they beat us by one.”

Despite the setback, the Irish went on to card the lowest scores of the tournament over the next 36 holes at 289 and 286, respectively. But the Hoyas responded to the pressure like champions.

“I give them a lot of credit because on the last hole they made five tremendous pars,” Kubinski said. “Three great up-and-downs, and a really clutch putt by Salina, the eight-footer to win it. You got to tip your cap to them.”

Several Irish players keyed the two-round rally at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. Sophomore Max Scodro (73) finished at 2-over Tuesday after turning in the lowest score of the tournament through 54 holes. While seniors Josh Sandman and Doug Fortner turned in their best scores on the final round, Kubinski said a victory would have been the proper way to cap their exceptional careers.

“I just feel bad because it’s a little bittersweet,” Kubinski said. “They’ve done so much for our program and I know they didn’t go out the way they hoped to. They battled hard yesterday, and they really left everything they had out there for Notre Dame.”