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Men’s Golf: Irish mix up lineup for last tournament

Casey Karnes | Friday, April 12, 2013

Notre Dame looks to finish out its regular season on a strong note when it travels to Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend for the Hawkeye Invitational.

The Irish had a disappointing showing last weekend in the Irish Creek Collegiate, finishing in 15th place with a score of 895 (297-299-299). Junior Andrew Lane led the starters with an average of 74 over the three rounds, good enough to tie him for 35th place individually. Senior Paul McNamara (73-76-75) and junior Niall Platt (75-76-73) tied for 47th place, while the remaining starters, freshman Corey Sciupider (77-73-77) and sophomore Patrick Grahek (75-76-82), finished tied for 64th and 81st places respectively. The Irish did not record any below-par rounds at the tournament.

For the Hawkeye Invitational, Irish coach Jim Kubinski will change up his starting lineup. Sophomore Tyler Wingo will be returning to the starting spot he laid claim to earlier in the season, replacing Grahek. According to Kubinski, the move is more of a reflection of Wingo’s strong play in practice than any other factor.

“We gave [Wingo] a week off to regroup and get himself together, and he looked really good this week in practice,” Kubinski said. “We’re going to give him a chance, although Patrick [Grahek] has … showed well [in practice] too.”

The Irish hope the lineup changes will allow them to gain consistency, Kubinski said. He added that the Irish feel as though they can build some momentum if a few players put together some strong rounds in the same tournament. 

“We’ve been disappointed with our results thus far, we just haven’t put four rounds together with four guys playing well,” Kubinski said. “We’ve typically only had one or two guys [playing well] this season at each event. Obviously, at this level, you need to have four good rounds, if not five.”

With a team as varied in experience as the Irish, it is sometimes difficult to get every golfer focused and performing simultaneously, Kubinski said. Regardless of the team’s situation, however, Kubinski said he could always rely on his senior leader McNamara as a stabilizing influence.

“Paul [McNamara] has come from being a young freshman to really, not only an experienced senior, but someone who has improved as much as anyone we’ve had over his four years,” Kubinski said. “He’s totally dedicated, and you won’t find anyone who loves Notre Dame more than Paul.”

Practice this week has added significance, as the Irish begin to prepare for the upcoming Big East tournament. The Hawkeye Invitational will act as the team’s final tune up before postseason play. Kubinski said his team has the talent to succeed and simply needs to get out of its own way on the course.

“We put extra pressure on ourselves each time out,” Kubinski said. “Rather than focusing on the shot and what they need to do, they focus on what each shot means. You just have to play the shot and focus on what you need to do to score. We just have to start to relax, focus on the right thing and our talent will start to show.” 

This weekend, Kubinski said the Irish would be more focused on improving themselves than anything else.

“The expectation is to try and get everyone going, build some positive momentum,” Kubinski said. “Kick back and enjoy the competition, and start to work towards the Big East [tournament] in a couple of weeks.”

Notre Dame will tee off at the Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu