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Men’s Golf: Irish welcome teams to Warren

Conor Kelly | Friday, April 20, 2012

One of the most obvious challenges for a golf program in northwestern Indiana is the constant travel necessitated by harsh weather in the region.

With most of Notre Dame’s season occurring before the Warren Golf Course is even open, the Irish spend most of the year traveling to far-away southern oases to compete against the top teams in the country.

On Sunday, however, the Irish will have their one and only shot at defending their home turf at the Battle at the Warren, the final tune-up before the Big East championships begin April 29.

“All of our guys are real excited about the chance to be playing at home,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “Everyone has friends, dorm-mates coming out to watch. It should be a good time.”

In comparison to some of the larger tournaments the Irish have travelled to this spring, the Battle at the Warren is small, but it assembles an impressive field that should test the Irish team looking to defend its championship from last year. Bradley, Evansville, Illinois State and Big East rival Marquette will make the trip to South Bend.

The Irish have struggled with inconsistent play for much of the spring season while playing against some of the top teams in the nation, but Kubinski said his team is primed for a good showing at the Warren because of the adversity they have faced.

“One thing you worry about as a coach is that their confidence drops a little because of poor showings, but their confidence will stay high,” Kubinski said. “If we play well, I feel that we’ll win, but if not, we’ll be in for a battle.”

The tournament will also provide an opportunity for Kubinski to play all twelve of his athletes. In addition to Notre Dame’s normal starting five, senior Ryan Coughlin will join the Irish lineup, bringing the total to six countable scores. The other six golfers will compete as individuals.

Though Kubinski hopes his team performs well, he said the tournament’s results will have little influence on seeding for the Big East tournament.

“I think we pretty much have the number-one seed wrapped up,” Kubinski said. “The problem with the Big East right now is that it is very top-heavy. There’s us, Louisville, South Florida and everyone else for the most part. Someone else is sure to get hot, but that’s the way it is.”

Until then, the Irish will focus on putting up a good showing in their one chance to impress at home. Action begins Sunday at the Warren Golf Course.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu