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Men’s Golf: Irish finish last season in Big East

Casey Karnes | Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Notre Dame posted its best results in weeks and finished third at the Big East tournament on Watson Course in Orlando, Fla.

The Irish shot par for the weekend to accumulate a cumulative score of 864 and trailed only South Florida (858) and St. Johns (862). While round three was the best for the Irish, their round one performance of 288 was enough to give them the lead heading into the second day. A tough second round shattered the momentum from day one, however, when the Irish had trouble in the short game.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski was disappointed by Notre Dame’s 296 score in the second round, but praised his team’s recovery for day three.

“We gave away several short putts over the tournament, which ultimately cost us a win,” Kubinski said.  “Great job of moving on from a tough day, keeping the confidence high and playing some inspired golf. I thought the guys showed some of that Fighting Irish spirit today.”

Notre Dame’s golfers didn’t merely rebound on day three, they posted their best score of the tournament, 280. Yet even after leading the pack on both day one and three, Notre Dame’s poor round two kept it behind both South Florida and St. Johns. Still, Kubinski was proud of his team’s improved play this week after a subpar season.

“The guys did a great job today of something I call trusting aggressively. The most important thing in our game is committing to the shot you’re about to play,” Kubinski said. “Our team did a great job of that today. It’s easy to talk about, as we have all season, but doing so is something that was great to see.”

The Irish had success individually as well, placing two golfers in the top five finishers. Freshman Cory Sciupider finished in third place – the highest freshman finish ever at Big East tournament according to Kubinski – by shooting a 211, and junior Niall Platt came in fifth with a score of 214. Freshman Zach Toste notched an impressive debut in his first start, tying Irish senior Paul McNamara for 25th place. Junior Andrew Lane rounded out the Irish lineup by finishing in 55th place.

Kubinski said he was impressed with his freshmen golfers’ performances, especially considering the heightened pressure of the Big East tournament.

“Our freshmen made this run possible. Cory finishing third is extremely significant. His ceiling is very, very high. I loved the way he handled his emotions today, better than at any point this season,” Kubinski said. “Zach came out pretty amped in round one, lots of adrenaline. He settled in after that. He played as well in round two as today but putted much better today. I’m excited about the next three years for each.”

Despite the Irish improvement in this tournament, they came up just short of the win, ending their season. According to Kubinski, his team has been defined by perseverance all season, and its hard work finally paid off in the Big East tournament.

“I’m really proud of our guys. We started the season with a very young team, having graduated 60 percent of our lineup last May,” Kubinski said. “This team kept learning and never lost belief in themselves.”

With the third-place finish in the Big East tournament, the Irish conclude their season.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu