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Men’s Golf

Notre Dame heads south to face stacked ACC field

| Friday, April 22, 2016

Notre Dame won eight Big East championships, but it will seek its first title in the ACC this weekend as the Irish travel to New London, North Carolina, to compete in the ACC championships.

Competition will begin Friday and the first round pairings for the Irish will include Boston College and Virginia Tech; The larger tournament field features six of the top-25 teams in the current Golfstat rankings. The weekend promises tough competition for an Irish team coming off a 33-stroke win at the Battle at the Warren last weekend, and Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said his team has been preparing appropriately.

“Our talks in preparation for ACCs have been about staying in the present and reducing our approach to its simplest form,” Kubinski said. “Young players need to learn it’s not who, what and where — meaning who we’re playing, what it means or where the tournament is — but instead having total focus on the simple things we need to do to execute out there.”

During practice this week, Kubinski said the focus has been on staying in the moment and not looking too far ahead at the pressures of the upcoming competition.

Irish sophomore Thomas Steve tees off at the Battle at the Warren on April 16. The Irish won the home tournament by 33 strokes.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore Thomas Steve tees off at the Battle at the Warren on April 16. The Irish won the home tournament by 33 strokes.

“We’re not looking at the weekend, as whole, with any forecasting,” Kubinski said. “We’re thinking about Thursday’s practice round right now, learning the course and developing game plans. On Thursday night, we’ll be looking forward to Friday play, getting the most out of our rounds. It’s day by day. That’s where our focus should be.”

Coming off of a home win this past weekend and all eight Irish athletes finishing in the top 10, the Irish will use this momentum to their advantage in the ACCs, Kubinski said.

“We’re feeling very good about our collective games,” he said. “Playing well on Saturday was certainly a nice boost. No matter who you are, having a strong result offers affirmation that the work you’ve undertaken has meaning.”

With a large field and tough competition, the Irish recognize the unique challenges that the ACC championships will present them and are preparing themselves accordingly with heightened composure in mind, according to their coach.

“The greatest challenge for all the players competing this weekend will be to avoid getting caught up in things that have no bearing on the shot you’re playing,” Kubinski said. “There are many examples, probably looking back and/or forecasting the holes ahead are the biggest two. It’s just so important to be focused on what you’re doing right now as a player.”

Another challenge looming at the ACCs is the unfamiliarity The Old North State Country Club presents. The Irish are undefeated at home this season, but Kubinski said the team should carry its strong play through to this weekend.

“We have played extremely well at home this year,” Kubinski said. “The things we’ve done at home though, effective game plan for the course, comfort in our surroundings, focusing on our game and not our competition’s play, are all things that we can do on the road. I think we’ll see that this weekend. That approach is the path to seeing our best play.”

Notre Dame tees off Friday morning and play will continue through Sunday in New London.

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