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Men’s Golf: Trio of seniors make contributions on, off the course

Chris Allen | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Through two early-season second-place tournament finishes by the Irish, the youth movement appears to be underway on Irish coach Jim Kubinski’s squad. But if there’s any group Kubinski is focusing on, it’s his group of seniors.

“[The seniors] have a major role off the course,” Kubinski said. “They’ve been huge in practice, in the locker room, especially with the freshman. I think that says a lot about their maturity. This group has matured more than any group I’ve been around from their freshman to their senior year.”

The trio of Irish seniors, comprised of Dustin Zhang, Connor Alan-Lee and Jeff Chen, have assumed more of a mentorship role for the Irish as the younger players continue to emerge. Kubinski said the true impact of the seniors couldn’t be discerned from a box score.

“They’ve all contributed as underclassmen, some of them since their freshmen year,” Kubinski said. “It’s not a case of them declining so much as it is a case of our younger guys rising up. Our recruiting has had a lot to do with that.”

Chen, who entered the season in the top 10 in all-time stroke average for the Irish, competed for the Irish at the season-opening College of Charleston Invitational, and posted a three-round total of 25-over for the tournament, good enough for a 65th place finish individually in the sizeable field.

Alan-Lee got the nod in this week’s Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, as Kubinski noted his experience and familiarity with the course as two critical factors in starting the senior. Alan-Lee did not score in the five-count-four format of the Classic, but Kubinski said he was thrilled with the senior’s three-round 15-over performance.

“He hadn’t played in the lineup for us since last fall,” Kubinski said. “Then, for him to come out in front of friends and shoot a 72 in the first round was huge. It was as much a reason as anything why we were leading after the first round.”

While Kubinski promised the foursome of freshman Niall Platt and juniors Tom Usher, Max Scodro and Chris Walker will be a major factor in Notre Dame’s competitive lineup for the remainder of the season, he also said the seniors will play an important role.

“I think it’s important to note that all three of them will play this season for us,” Kubinski said.