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Men’s Golf

ND heads to Minnesota’s Gopher Invitational

| Thursday, September 4, 2014

After beginning the season with a strong showing at home, Notre Dame looks to continue their opening success up north in Independence, Minn. The Irish, who finished first at the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge last Sunday, will take part in the Gopher Invitational against three teams ranked in the top 30, according to Golfstat.com.

Irish coach James Kubinski said he was quite pleased with his team’s opening to the season.

Irish senior Patrick Grahek follows through on a swing during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 31.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Patrick Grahek follows through on a swing during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 31.

“Above and beyond the great scores, I was happy to see so much personal growth,” Kubinski said. “Our approach and attitude, collectively, were much improved over last season. It’s so important, in our game especially, to stay positive and put the mishaps behind you. We did that on Sunday. In terms of things to work on, the approach and attitude development is still a process. We’ve now proven we can exhibit those championship qualities, but now we must travel with them.”

Last season, the Irish opened their fall campaign at the Gopher Invitational and tied for the seventh places as a team, while placing two individuals, including sophomore Matt Rushton, in the top 10.

As the tourney enters its 10th season, the Gopher Invitational will take place at Windsong Farm Golf Club for the second season in a row. The fact that the Irish have played there before has made it easier for Notre Dame to recognize how to play each hole, Kubinski said.

“Windsong Farm is a strong set up,” Kubinski said. “The greens will have some speed to them. More importantly though, there are five or six holes with challenging tee shots, so putting the ball into favorable positions on those holes is a real key to Windsong.”

Kubinski said he is not particularly worried with how his team will handle the course, as he has been impressed by the play of his team so far. At the Irish Kickoff, Notre Dame placed four golfers in the top 10, with three of those players shooting under par at the Warren Golf Course.

“Each of our five players is in a good place right now, so a good finish could come from any of the five,” Kubinski said. “(Sophomore) Matt Rushton earned a [tie for sixth] finish at Windsong Farm last year in his debut, so there’s good familiarity and good feelings for him. Matt [and the others] all competed there last season, which should help our team.”

In the end, Kubinski said he is looking for is for his team to build off both last season’s disappointments and successes, as well as their opening victory, before traveling north.

“Our biggest goal this week is to carry forward all the lessons learned last season, throughout the summer and from Sunday’s win,” Kubinski said. “Most every player claims to have learned something after a tournament, but many do not apply those lessons. Winning players learn and then use what they’ve learned forever after.”

The Irish travel to Independence, Minn., to take part in the Gopher Invitational on Sunday, before concluding play Monday afternoon.

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