Irish struggle in Minnesota
Kit Loughran | Monday, September 8, 2014
The Irish tied for 10th place at the Gopher Invitational at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn., on Monday.Notre Dame finished its first road tournament of the 2014-15 season in the top 10, carding rounds of 302-305-304 for a 59-over-par score across the 54 holes. The Irish tied Nebraska for 10th place, and Baylor won the tournament with a 10-over overall score.
“We felt we should have been able to post a top-five finish, with four solid scores each round,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “Having to post a couple high numbers in all three rounds really hurt us. The conditions were tough, but our guys need to learn to limit the damage on those days, keeping the score in the mid-70s. We didn’t do that this week but have a chance to redeem ourselves at Northwestern in two weeks.”
Though the Irish did not finish as well as they hoped, the team was represented individually on the leaderboard. Sophomore Matt Rushton posted a top-15 finish for the second year in a row at the Gopher Invitational. He earned a final round even-par score of 71 to secure 11th place individually (73-75-71-219, +6). Rushton birdied four holes during Monday’s round for a 3-under-par score of 33 on the back nine and 6-over-par overall finish.
“Matt played very well throughout the event,” Kubinski said. “The work he has put in, on and off the course, is evident. He’s a far more mature player from last season, and his consistent scores in challenging conditions is proof. Even his high round, 75, was a couple good bounces from being a 72. Just a great job competing throughout.”
Close behind Rushton, freshman Thomas Steve capped off the third round with a 7-over par 78 for a share of 24th place. Steve and Rushton both posted Notre Dame’s low-round scores of the event, an even-par score of 71.
“Thomas Steve has a high ceiling on this team largely due to his approach to playing and his inherent competitiveness,” Kubinski said. “He has some physical areas to improve, and he will, but he was not intimidated by a tough golf course in challenging conditions this week, and that fact is not lost on his coaches nor teammates.”
Senior Patrick Grahek posted solid first and third rounds to help the Irish finish in the top 10. Grahek tied 30th individually with an overall score of 227 (72-81-74). He had five birdies in throughout the three rounds, two of which he posted in Monday’s final round.
“Patrick’s ability to put a tough round in the rear view and focus on today was good to see and a trait a couple other players must develop to have a future in this game,” Kubinski said. “Patrick has grown a great deal over the last 18 months, which is a credit to his desire to improve.”
The course and its conditions challenged the Irish squad, even worsening from day one, Kubinski said.
“Conditions were more difficult today,” Kubinski said. “The wind was a steady 12-15 [miles per hour], with gusts to 20. On a golf course with more room and softer hole locations, the wind wouldn’t have impacted scores as much, [but] Windsong Farm had hole locations tucked and on the edges and little margin for error off the tee.”
The Irish are still early in their 2014 season, and in addition to adjusting to various course conditions, they still have to time to build upon their scores and lineup, Kubinski said.
“We need to stabilize our lineup,” Kubinski said. “We just can’t have multiple players, regardless of conditions, posting numbers well over the field average. We’ll do it. Whether it starts at Northwestern next time out or not, we’ll get to the point where are players find their comfort zone regardless of where we’re competing.”
Notre Dame heads into its next road tournament of the fall season at The Windon Memorial, hosted by Northwestern on Sept. 21-22.