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Men’s Golf: Young Irish team finishes third in Big East

Casey Karnes | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

After a season of growing pains, the Irish hope  a strong finish will vault them to a return to glory in coming years.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski knew his team was in for a rebuilding year after losing three seniors from last year’s Big East championship squad. Kubinski also said this year’s ups and downs bode well for the future of his program.

“I think [this season] was a stepping stone,” Kubinski said. “This year, I was frustrated because I thought we were better than we were playing. When we finished up this season playing the way we did, I’m more excited right now than I’ve been in a lot of years for the prospects of this team.”

Notre Dame posted several top finishes in the four-tournament fall season, as they came in second at the Georgetown Intercollegiate and fourth at the Macdonald Cup.

The spring season had an inauspicious start for the Irish as they finished 15th, 15th and 11th in three of their first four tournaments, respectively. Kubinski singled out the last tournament of that opening quartet as a highlight for the Irish, with Notre Dame tying for fifth at the C&F Bank Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va. Freshman Cory Sciupider led the way, firing a 67 to tie for first place individually, while junior Andrew Lane wasn’t far behind with a 68 in third place.

But as the season progressed, the Irish never put together a consistent three rounds until their performance at the Big East tournament in late April. The Irish came out shooting well in round one and led the field with a score of 288. Notre Dame fell behind in round two, but shot a tournament-best and season-low 280 for the final round – led again by a 67 from Sciupider. While the round was not enough to propel the Irish to a title – they finished in third – Kubinski was proud of his team’s perseverance.

“I thought the highlight of the year for the team was the final round of the year,” Kubinski said. “To play our best round of the season, when it was really do or die, I thought that was really good for a team that headed into the year needing some experience. The guys said they didn’t see it as the last round of this year, but rather the first of next year, to build some momentum.”

The Irish will return all starters next year except senior Paul McNamara. Sciupider, Lane, junior Niall Platt, freshman Zach Toste and sophomores Tyler Wingo and Patrick Grahek will all return with experience, and Kubinski said he expects the three incoming freshmen to have an impact as well. 

Kubinski said his team’s weakness this year will be a strength in 2014.

“I think we can take the momentum of [the Big East tournament] and say ‘we can do this,'” Kubinski said. “Let’s take this into next season and we can shoot some great rounds.”

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu