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Men’s Golf: Irish ready to host 6th Classic

Andrew Gastelum | Monday, September 26, 2011

Notre Dame will host the sixth annual Fighting Irish Golf Classic at Warren Golf Course Monday following successive trips to Minnesota and Chicago.

The Irish are coming off an eighth-place finish at the Olympia Fields Invitational in Chicago, where they defeated No. 8 Duke, No. 20 Ohio State and No. 22 Augusta State — three teams that made it to last season’s NCAA Final Four.

“We had a couple of guys play really good [at Olympia],” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “That was, by far, the strongest field in college golf with 12 teams that will probably finish in the top-30. It was nice to steal a good finish there.”

Senior Max Scodro led the way for Notre Dame at Olympia, finishing 12th in the individual competition at +6. The Chicago native finished the final round one-under par, highlighted by five birdies on the back nine. The senior’s leadership has been a bright spot for the Irish all year, according to Kubinski.

“Max gives us those good scores consistently and he has played the most,” Kubinski said. “He brings the tangible with his scores on paper, but he also brings the intangibles in his leadership.”   

The Fighting Irish Golf Classic features 12 teams from around the nation including Georgetown, Houston, Villanova and San Francisco. Although the tournament doesn’t feature any squads in the national rankings — unlike Olympia’s 10 ranked teams — Kubinski said the Irish still need to compete at their highest level.

“[The Fighting Irish Golf Classic] is the typical college tournament, where all wins and losses count,” he said. “We just have to be ready to put on a good performance.”

Iowa finished atop the leaderboard at last year’s Fighting Irish Golf Classic, but Notre Dame comes in as the top returning team, finishing six strokes behind the Hawkeyes in second place. Senior Tom Usher led the Irish at last year’s tournament and tied for seventh, after shooting a 69 in the second round.

The top individual finishers from last year’s tournament also return: San Francisco senior Ji Hwan Park and junior Taylor Travis. The San Francisco duo tied for first after each shot a 208 to lead the way for the third-place Dons.

“[Park and Travis] finished two-under and really hit their stride last year,” Kubinski said. “They brought a good performance last week as well, but I think it’ll be a little more difficult here with the rain and the weather projected for the tournament.”

With the tournament, Notre Dame also plans to raise awareness of colon cancer. The Irish will wear blue to promote cancer screening and honor those who lost their lives to colon cancer, including Kubinski’s father.

“[Colon cancer] was really preventable for my dad and for everyone else if it is detected early,” Kubinski said. “We just want to get some awareness out there for early screening and get some people to try to prevent this deadly disease.”

The Irish host the first two rounds of the Fighting Irish Golf Classic on Monday at Warren Golf Course in South Bend.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastel1@nd.edu