Men’s Golf: Usher leads Irish to win in first spring tournament
Conor Kelly | Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Despite strong finishes in a number of events, the Irish were never able to secure a tournament victory in the fall season, much to the consternation of Irish coach James Kubinski.
It took them exactly one tournament to do so in the spring season, taking The Match Play title with wins against Central Arkansas and USC Upstate at the Reunion Resort Watson Course in Orlando, Fla.
“To get on a winning track like this is huge for us,” Kubinski said. “It was something that frustrated us all fall, but I like what I’m seeing early on in the spring.”
The semifinal match with Central Arkansas saw the Irish fall behind early, trailing in four of six matches heading into the back nine. Spurred by impressive efforts from seniors Tom Usher and Chris Walker, the Irish turned it on down the stretch en route to a 4-2 victory over the Bears. Both Usher and Walker rallied from three strokes down with nine holes to play.
“I thought this morning didn’t look great to be honest,” Kubinski said. “[Central] Arkansas was playing some great golf, and we weren’t, but to see the guys do that was great. It was a game where everything was going against, and I was almost a little to the fact that we were going to lose, but after we won I had no doubt we were going to win in the afternoon with the way we were playing.”
Kubinski’s prediction came true in the final as the Irish made much quicker work of the Spartans, though the 4-2 score remained the same. Usher, Walker, senior Max Scodro and sophomore Niall Platt claimed wins in the victory.
Kubinski said the team’s consistency was the highlight of the event.
“It was great to see consistent play across five or six golfers,” Kubinski said. “Often in the fall it was Max [Scodro] carrying the load for us, but he didn’t have to today, and this was something that I told the guys. It was an area that we struggled with in the fall, but I think the break served us well in that regard.”
The Irish now wait a month before hitting the links competitively again at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Ga.
“The Schenkel [Invitational] is always huge for us because so many top teams are there,” Kubinski said. “With the way we played the past two days and some time to prepare, we’re feeling good about it.”
In the meantime, the Irish will travel to Hilton Head Island, S.C. next weekend for the Alumni Match Weekend, where the current Notre Dame squad will be paired with Irish golf alumni in an a tune-up contest.
“The Alumni weekend is great,” Kubinski said. “It gets us another weekend of warm weather golfing and is always lots of fun for everyone.”
Contact Conor Kelly at [email protected]