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Men’s Golf: Notre Dame concludes fall season

Conor Kelly | Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After 36 holes of play Monday at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, the Irish sat in 11th place with one round to play in a tough 14-team field. After firing a second-round total of 289 Monday afternoon, the Irish and coach Jim Kubinski were hoping that a strong finish Tuesday could propel the Irish up the leaderboard.

But at the end of the day and the tournament, 11th place was where the Irish would finish. No. 29 Texas A&M barely edged No. 27 Duke for the outright victory, winning by just two strokes.

“I was disappointed by our play these past couple days and with our fall season in general.  The whole team is [disappointed],” Kubinski said. “We had a first great tournament in Minnesota, but after that we just struggled to achieve any consistency. We haven’t been getting the four or five good scores per round that we need in order to compete.”

Tuesday thus brought to a close the fall season, as the Irish now enter into a three-month hiatus before the start of the spring season in February. The final tournament proved to be a microcosm of a disappointing fall for Kubinski and the Irish.

The Irish did receive encouraging performances Tuesday from seniors Max Scodro and Chris Walker, who both carded scores of one-under par. Though Scodro lost the opportunity for a highlight round with three bogeys on the back nine, the senior was once again a stalwart for the Irish.

“Ever since Max won the Big East in the spring, he’s been a much better, more confident player,” Kubinski said. “He’s really a true number one for us where we didn’t always necessarily have one. Other than just a couple rounds, he’s played superbly this fall.”

Sophomore Niall Platt chipped in with a +1 score on the round, making him, other than Scodro, the most consistent golfer for the Irish through the two-day tournament. Though he struggled at times during the fall, Platt has come on strong in the last couple tournaments and is playing as Notre Dame’s No. 2 behind Scodro.

“Last year at times he was our number two, and I think a lot of his issues at the beginning of this year were due to the lengths of the courses we were playing and the conditions,” Kubinski said. “But he’s played a lot better of late.”

Junior Paul McNamara and senior Tom Usher rounded out the five for the Irish with scores of +6 and +7 respectively. For Usher, who tied for the Big East individual championship title in 2010, the match ended a rough fall that saw the senior try to recover from a hand injury sustained in the spring and implement changes to his swing in the midst of a demanding schedule.

With time now to regroup, Kubinski hopes that the offseason will give his team some needed rest and time for improvement

“For Tom and for all of us, we’re looking to improve over the break and get ready for the spring,” Kubinski said. “The offseason is arriving at a pretty good time for us.”

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu