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Men’s Golf: Lone Irish sophomore competes

Cory Bernard | Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sophomore Paul McNamara admits that entering the fall of 2009 as the lone member of Notre Dame’s recruiting class was daunting. However, he said this early obstacle may have contributed to his solid performance so far this season.

Pursued by USC and UCLA, among others, the Southern California native instead enrolled at Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, no one else from his year did the same. Irish coach Jim Kubinski said only landing one recruit has been rare during his tenure, and that it presents some difficulties as a young golfer.

“The only other time we’ve had that in our program was with Josh Sandman,” Kubinski said of the 2010 Notre Dame graduate. “Paul went through it as a freshman. It’s tough because you don’t have anyone to relate to.”

McNamara echoed the sentiments of his coach, but said there are positive aspects of being a lone freshman on a veteran squad.

“I was intimidated when I first got here, a little on edge because everything was so new,” he said. “I didn’t know where to go to work out or who to go with. I did my best to get to know the older guys, but they were traveing a lot. I ended up just working really hard on my game late at night.”

McNamara also worked on building strength to complement his technical work. Kubinski said his work in the weight room has paid dividends.

“Physically, he’s gotten better,” Kubinski said. “He’s worked hard with our strength trainers, and over the summer he trained religiously. He came back hitting the ball 25 yards longer, which is huge.”

This combination of improved skills and increased strength catapulted McNamara into the top-five of the Irish lineup during the fall season. The work he got at the numerous warm-weather invitationals last semester has provided him with an invaluable experience, Kubinski said.

“The confidence he took from playing in the fall — he had multiple under-70 rounds — has made a difference,” Kubinski said. “Paul has really blossomed this year.”

A far cry from his earliest memories as a member of the Irish team, McNamara said he has developed a chemistry with his teammates both on and off the course.

“The team dynamic this year is better than last year’s,” McNamara said. “We have a very tight-knit group of guys. We hang out off the course and we try to be positive and help each other out at practice.”

Should Notre Dame advance in the NCAA tournament this year, McNamara said his early trials should play an important role.

“I think things happen for a reason, and maybe that happened for a reason,” he said of his one-man class. “I’m playing well now, and I have been for a little while, and that I think it’s possible that could be a reason.”