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Men’s Golf: Home tournament provides advantages

Cory Bernard | Friday, October 5, 2012

After opening their season with tournaments in Chapel Hill, N.C., and New Haven, Conn., the Irish will not have to travel far for their next event.

The annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic tees off Sunday at the Warren Golf Course on the north edge of Notre Dame’s campus. Irish coach Jim Kubinski said his team is looking forward to playing on a familiar course with a friendly crowd.

“We’re excited about this weekend; it’s good to be home,” Kubinski said. “This is the type of course where home-course knowledge helps. We also get support with so many students coming over who are friends of our guys and obviously family members and then people at the golf course they know. I think the knowledge is a big part of it, though.”

Last year, the Irish finished fifth in their home tournament, with the Houston claiming a share of the top spot. According to Kubinski, the field, which includes the Cougars again, will challenge his team.

“I would guess that the three Big Ten schools – Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota – will be good,” Kubinski said. “And I know from the last two NCAA tournaments San Francisco and North Carolina-Wilmington are NCAA-type teams. The one obvious challenger is the co-defending champs in the University of Houston. They have a lot of guys back from last year. They were young last year, and I think they’re pretty good too.”

Because the Irish won’t have to travel, they will be able to insert a few members of the team to compete as individuals whose efforts do not count toward the team score. Kubinski said entering additional competitors in the Gridiron Golf Classic, as well as the individuals-only Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational at Ball State on Oct. 15, will allow his inexperienced golfers to continue to improve.

“Playing individuals in this tournament is huge,” he said. “We’ve been trying to break in three new starters this year, but the guys on the bench haven’t played either so this is a great experience for them. Actually we got another one for some individuals at Ball State here in about a week and a half so the next couple weeks will be huge for those guys who haven’t been in the starting lineup.”

Notre Dame’s starting five will be nearly identical to the one Kubinski used at the MacDonald Cup in New Haven, Conn., on Sept. 29 and 30, with one exception. Freshman Cory Sciupider will be making his first start for the Irish, replacing sophomore Peyton Vitter, who will compete as an individual.

Action begins Sunday morning at the Warren Golf Course and concludes Tuesday.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu