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Men’s Golf: Irish claim victory in conference

Cory Bernard | Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Last spring, the Irish ended the Big East championship in agonizing fashion, finishing one stroke behind first-place Georgetown. This year, however, they left no doubt that they were the victors.

Notre Dame was in a tie for first after Sunday’s initial round, then grabbed sole possession of the lead after the second round Monday. It completed the wire-to-wire victory Tuesday and claimed the program’s seventh Big East title and first since 2006. The Irish finished with a 24 over par 876. Runner-up Louisville carded a 30 over par 882.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski said his team never wavered despite some rough stretches

“I’m really proud of the guys and how they competed,” he said. “They really battled hard, even when most would admit they weren’t on their ‘A’ game.”

Junior Max Scodro led the Irish again en route to winning the individual title. He carded rounds of 70, 73 and 69, respectively, to finish with a one under par 212 for the tournament. Kubinski said he took pride in the junior’s effort.

“Max played extremely well to win it all and become our first individual champion since 2005,” Kubinski said. “I’m really proud of him. He deserves it.”

With junior number one golfer Tom Usher unable to compete, the Irish needed contributions from each member of their top five. Kubinski said every golfer on his squad stepped up at a crucial time.

“Paul [McNamara III] played really well for us as a sophomore in his first [Big East championship],” he said. “He had to battle through an injury and really gutted it out. [Senior] Connor [Alan-Lee] gave us a really good round on Monday. We needed his 73. [Junior] Chris [Walker] didn’t play like he’s capable, but still played some good stretches.”

Perhaps the most impressive effort came from freshman Niall Platt, who capped his first season of college golf by carding a five over par 218. Kubinski said his freshman, who finished in a tie for sixth place individually, played confidently.

“Niall also played well,” Kubinski said. “He was tremendous, really, all tournament except for his first nine or 10 holes. To play his last eight holes at one under was a huge factor for us going from a pretty close lead to winning by six shots. And having a freshman do it is outstanding.”

Their effort in the Big East tournament positioned the Irish for a berth in the NCAA regional tournament for the first time since 2006. Kubinski said he initially hoped to just get back to the national stage, but now thinks his team might be able to advance beyond regionals.

“This season, I was really hoping we could get some experience in the NCAA’s for next season,” he said. “With how well our top guys are playing and us getting Tom back healthy, I think we have a chance to make some noise.”

This season will have far-reaching effects. Kubinski said his current squad’s NCAA berth will improve the future of the program.

“[Appearing on the national stage is] tremendous for the program,” he said. “It’s something that every junior golfer is looking at and that all of our recruits mentioned. They want to have a chance to play for the national title. It will be good to get back to the NCAAs for the first time in a few years and hopefully make it to the championships, which this program hasn’t done in 45 years.”