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Men’s Golf: Irish struggle in season-opening tournament

Casey Karnes | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

After a long break, Notre Dame showed some rust in its first tournament of the spring season.

With a three-day score of 900 (297-307-296) at the Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational, the Irish finished last out of 15 teams on the weekend. Alabama won the event with a 16-under par three-day score of 848. While the last-place finish was not Irish coach Jim Kubinski’s desired result, he understood the root of his team’s struggles.

“We were a little disappointed finishing at the back end of the field,” Kubinski said. “The guys recognize that we hadn’t played a tournament in five months. We were a little rusty. A couple of hiccups come with the beginning of the season.”

The Irish rust showed most on the second day, their worst of the weekend. They were able to rebound on the final day, however, and post their best score of the weekend. Notre Dame’s recovery was one of the positive signs Kubinski saw this weekend.

“They had a nightmare second round, but in the third round they had their best round of the tournament,” Kubinski said, “They were resilient, that was the biggest thing they showed this weekend.”

Another positive was the consistent play of the Irish upperclassmen. Senior Paul McNamara and junior Niall Platt both tied for 22nd place in the individual rankings with three-day scores of 220. Like his team, McNamara saved his best round for last, posting a one-under par (71) on Sunday. Junior Andrew Lane also salvaged his weekend with a strong final nine holes to finish in 54th place. The final two Irish starters, sophomores Tyler Wingo and Peyton Vitter, finished tied for 78th and 84th, respectively.

In his first spring start as an individual, freshman Corey Sciupider posted a score of 228 to tie for 57th place, impressing his coach.

“We wanted to get [Corey] some experience. … He missed some time in time in the fall, so it was good to get him out there,” Kubinski said. “He’s very talented. The first two days he hit the ball really well, and while his putter let him down a little bit, he showed he could play. The experience was really good for him.”

With the brutal Indiana winter, it is difficult for the Irish to replicate the experience of an outdoor tournament. That’s why Kubinski believes that this past tournament, while not a success, will be hugely beneficial in Notre Dame’s next tournament.

“We played good stretches, we just didn’t put them together. We’re looking forward to next week,” Kubinski said. “I think the big thing going into next week is that we’ve had that tournament feel. That we’ve competed, had the nerves, dealt with that. Now we’re ready to move up that leader board, get better every week.”

Notre Dame’s next tournament is the C&F Bank Intercollegiate March 24-26 at the Kingsmill Resort-River Course in Williamsburg, Va.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu