Irish in 10th place to open Gopher Invitational
Kit Loughran | Sunday, September 7, 2014
The Irish stand in 10th place after two rounds at the Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn. on Sunday.
Notre Dame finished 39-over-par through the first two rounds of the tournament, hosted by Minnesota. The Irish posted a first-round score of 302 and second-round score of 305 for a team total of 602. The team heads into day two placed 10th out of a 15-team field, and the Irish look to improve that ranking with tomorrow’s round.“We need to play the way we did last week, which is with comfort and confidence,” Irish coach James Kubinski said. “We seemed to become uncomfortable far too easily today. We’re a growing team. We took a step backward but with a nice round tomorrow, we have an opportunity to post a solid finish in the tournament.”
Though the Irish are focused on moving up the leaderboard, the squad’s underclassmen played two solid rounds that carried the Irish through the first day. Freshman Thomas Steve leads the Irish after the first 36 holes with a five-over-par score of 147 (76-71-147) that puts him in a tie for 17th.
“I was extremely impressed by Thomas, our freshman, in not only leading our team in scoring today but for the way he did it,” Kubinski said. “He showed a lot of heart out there, after a slow start. As the day went on though, he became more comfortable. He didn’t have his best game today but still showed enough grit and resolve to post five birdies over his last nine holes.”
Like his coach, senior Patrick Grahek said he was proud of Steve’s performance on the course.
“It was great to see our underclassmen really step up and perform well today,” Grahek said. “Our freshman Thomas Steve … is playing some very solid golf.”
Close behind Steve, fellow underclassmen sophomore Matt Rushton ended the day tied in 22nd place with a six-over-par score of 148 (73-78-148). Grahek (72-181) led the squad’s upperclassman through the first day, securing an eleven-over-par finish and tie for 40th place. Sophomore Blake Barens (81-79-160) and junior Cory Sciupider followed (81-80-161) Grahek and are tied for 61st and 63rd place, respectively.
Baylor ended day one at the top of the leaderboard with a four-over-par score of 572, following a first round 289 and second round 283. California (293-289-582), Minnesota (294-295-589), Charlotte (296-294-590) and Kent State (291-302-593) rounded out the top five. Coming off a team victory at the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge last week, the Irish are prepared and capable of competing in such a talented field of competitors, Grahek said.
“We are one of the most talented teams in every field we play in, but playing to our potential is something we need to work on,” Grahek said. “We, as a team, need to develop our practice of exhibiting patience out on the course. Once we can find our comfort zones and play our own games, we will succeed as a team.”
Playing up to its potential wasn’t Notre Dame’s only challenge yesterday. The course itself was a test for the Irish, Grahek said.
“Conditions [on the course] were tough today,” Grahek said. “There were tucked pins, strong winds and fast greens.”
Now familiar with the course, the Irish head into the third and final round of the tournament today. Grahek said the team is focused on building upon yesterday’s performance and knowledge of the course.
“[Today] we are going to come out with a lot more confidence and purpose with what we are trying to do,” he said. “The golf course is fairly intimidating, so staying focused is key.”
The Irish compete in the last 18 holes of the 2014 Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club today.