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Men’s Golf: Irish host final tournament

Conor Kelly | Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Irish have just one tournament left to play before they travel to Palm Harbor, Fla., next Monday for the Big East championships, where they hope to be the top seed.

The Irish will host the Battle at the Warren at Notre Dame’s very own Warren Golf Course today.

Appalachian State, Detroit, Oakland and Bradley have made the trip to South Bend for the tournament, which Irish coach James Kubinski sees as a crucial round before the conference tournament next week.

“This should be a good tune-up for our guys. We’re pretty much guaranteed the No. 1 seed, but we have to get ready for the weekend down in Tampa,” Kubinski said.

The road to victory, both at the Battle and at the Big East championships, got tougher for the Irish yesterday when junior No. 1 golfer Tom Usher broke his hand while lifting weights. Though he struggled last weekend at the LSU Invitational, Usher was an All-Big East conference selection in 2010 and has already taken home Player of the Week honors this spring. He is expected to return by the time the Irish compete in the NCAA tournament at the end of May, but should be sidelined for over a month.

“Tom’s injury is obviously a big loss for us, but we have to have a next-man-in mentality,” Kubinski said. “I’m confident that we have people who will step up.”

Kubinski expects senior Connor Alan-Lee to move into his top five for at least the four to six weeks that Usher will be out.

“[Alan-Lee] has been playing great recently, averaging around 72 or 73,” Kubinski said. “We played a qualifying round the other day, and he finished second.”

The Irish will play at home after weeks of traveling. Warren opened just last week, but the team has already been out on the course twice. After a frustrating string of mediocre tournament finishes, Kubinksi hopes that the friendly confines will serve the team well.

“The guys have played this course a lot, and that can only help us,” Kubinski said. “It’s always nice to play at home. The guys are actually going to class tomorrow.”

The Battle at the Warren will tee off today at 12:30 p.m.