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Men’s Golf: Irish await NCAA tournament seed

Cory Bernard | Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Now that the regular season has ended, Notre Dame must play the waiting game. The Irish know they will compete in the NCAA regional tournament, and find out Monday evening where they will travel and whom they will face.

The regional competitions, held at six courses around the country, take place from May 19 to May 21. Each pool contains 13 to 14 teams, with the top five advancing to the national competition hosted by Oklahoma State at the Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski said his team has a 50-50 chance of traveling to nearby Zionsville, Ind. to compete at the Wolf Run Golf Club. However, as is the case with NCAA basketball tournament selections, a balanced bracket may require teams to compete in different regions. In 2006, the last time the Irish competed on the national stage, Notre Dame travelled to Orlando to play in the east regional.

Kubinski said he thinks his club will end up in the bottom half of their bracket due to some uncharacteristically poor performances earlier in the season.

“I expect us to be an eight or nine seed,” he said. “We would probably have been a four or five had we not struggled coming out of the gate in the spring.”

Far removed from earlier struggles, the Irish have played well in recent weeks. Kubinski said his squad proved their focus by winning the Big East championship.

“The guys are really excited,” Kubinski said. “We’ve played well, and it was nice to go into the Big East championship with less pressure knowing we were likely to make the NCAAs. Still, being favored to win can be tough, but they got the lead and held it throughout.”

The Big East took note of Notre Dame’s impressive body of work this season, naming junior Max Scodro Player of the Year and freshman Niall Platt Freshman of the Year. His peers also named Kubinski the Big East Coach of the Year. Kubinski said Scodro deserved the award.

“Max has done everything we’ve asked of him and more,” Kubinski said. “Really, if you look at the stroke averages, he’s been our best player all year. Ultimately I think he’s proven he’s one of the best in the country and we’re so proud of him.”

Kubinski also praised Platt’s efforts in his first collegiate season.

“I had some pretty big expectations for [Niall] coming in and he lived up to those early, beginning with his second place at Kiawah,” Kubinski said. “He’s been very consistent for us all year and a big contributor.”

With two weeks left before regional action begins, the Irish hope to have injured junior Tom Usher back in time for the NCAA tournament. Usher has been sidelined with a broken hand since early April. Kubinski said he hopes to have the junior back soon, but needs to be sure of his ability to compete.

“Tom would go if he could prove he can go around or two at a high level,” Kubinski said. “He’s been hitting some one-armed shots and doing putting work because that won’t aggravate anything. Hopefully we get him fully healthy.”