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Men’s Golf: Irish to tee off against Hoyas

Conor Kelly | Friday, April 15, 2011

One year ago the Irish finished second to Georgetown in a playoff at the Big East championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. The loss has served as a motivating factor for Notre Dame all year, its goal being to return to the Big East championship for another shot at the title.

It seems only appropriate then that the Irish have been paired with the Hoyas for the first round in this year’s tournament. While the pairings are random, coach Jim Kubinski said he thinks the matchup is good for his team.

“When I found out and told the guys that we were paired with Georgetown on the first day, they all were pretty excited,” Kubinski said. “They are looking forward to it.”

The Irish are coming off of their only tournament victory of the spring Tuesday as they won the Battle at the Warren, played at Notre Dame’s own Warren Golf Course.

Kubinski described his team’s eight stroke victory as its best golf of the spring.

“We’ve been trying all season to get back to the level we were at in the fall, and this was definitely a huge step in the right direction,” Kubinski said.

The win was especially important for the Irish given the loss of No. 1 golfer Tom Usher, who broke his hand earlier this week while weightlifting. Kubinski tapped senior Connor Alan-Lee to replace Usher in the group of five who will be competing at the Big East championship. Kubinski’s vote of confidence in Alan-Lee as the lone senior in the top five reflects both Alan-Lee’s strong recent performances and the need for leadership at the upcoming meet. Kubinski, however, said he is not worried about his team’s relative inexperience.

“I’ll take talent over experience any day of the week,” Kubinski said. “And I feel that we’re definitely the most talented team in the tournament.”

Notre Dame, in addition to Alan-Lee, will send juniors Max Scodro and Chris Walker, sophomore Paul McNamara and freshman Niall Platt into the tournament, which counts only the top four scores for each team. The Irish rank almost a full 50 spots above Louisville, the next highest Big East team, and Kubinski said their biggest competition will be themselves.

“If we play well, we will win,” Kubinski said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

The Big East championship will begin Saturday at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.