For the third straight tournament, the Irish played well — and for the third straight tournament, they came up just short of a victory.
Notre Dame wrapped up play Tuesday at the Firestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, with a final team score of 14-under-par, one stroke behind Indiana for the top spot on the leader board. Regardless of the outcome, Irish coach Jim Kubinski said the Irish are optimistic at this point in the season.
“You know, as much fun as it is to win a tournament in October, we have to look past that,” Kubinski said. “We have to remember that it’s a long season. Our goal is to keep getting better each tournament and get better for the long run, and ultimately we’re doing that. You want to make the postseason and championships in the spring.”
Leading the Irish at Firestone were juniors Max Scodro and Tom Usher, who fired 209 and 212 respectively over three rounds to pace the squad. Scodro’s score of 7-under-par for the tournament places him in a tie for the best to-par score in a three-round tournament in program history with 2007 graduate Cole Isban. Scodro and Usher have consistently scored well for the Irish at the beginning of the season, which is just how Kubinski envisioned it.
“They have pretty different games, the two of them,” he said, “But they’ve brought such stability to the lineup.”
Junior Chris Walker and freshman Niall Platt both fired a 217 over three rounds to round out the scoring. Platt’s 65 in the first round was the low round of the tournament for any golfer in the field, but his final round 80 brought him back to the pack after an eight-bogey round.
“The first round he hit the ball beautifully — he hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which is above the PGA Tour average,” Kubinski said. “Once he got on the green, he only had 26 putts to post the 65. I don’t care whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, that’s a great score. Today he just didn’t strike the ball as well, and he also didn’t put as well as he did in the first round.”
Moving forward, the Irish will play in two tournaments over fall break as the team travels to warm weather and to elite golf courses. First up is the Lone Star Invitational on Oct. 17 and 18 in San Antonio.
“This is a new tournament for us, and the course at Briggs Ranch comes highly acclaimed by other coaches,” Kubinski said. “It should be a good test, and it’s a long course which suits us well. I think we’ll do really well.”
After the Irish wrap up in Texas, they will head to California for the Saint Mary’s Invitational at Bayonet and Blackhorse on Oct. 25 and 26.
“We’re going to play Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill as a warm-up to the event,” Kubinski said. “It’s a two course event, which is pretty unique for college golf. The courses are true ball-striking courses, so it’ll be a great test for our golfers in a great locale.”