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Sports

Irish embark on second half of season in Florida

| Monday, February 13, 2017

Notre Dame will commence the second half of its 2016-2017 season down in Dade City, Florida, at Ball State University’s Earl Yestingsmeier Match Play.

Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said the Irish head south with an air of anticipation.

“Our guys are excited to get our spring campaign underway, with our first NCAA competition this weekend,” Kubinski said. “We played an alumni match last weekend in Orlando with lots of quality play, so confidence is high. We’ll be without one of our best players this weekend due to illness, but that’s something our depth this season can now overcome.”

This excitement will meet the course Monday in a shotgun start. Seeded second in the tournament, the Irish tee off first against seventh-seeded DePaul. The field of eight also includes host Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Seton Hall and Toledo.

“The format this weekend, unlike the rest of our season, is match play,” Kubinski said. “That requires a different approach to some extent. We’ll need to expect our opponents to hole some shots here and there that may not be high-percentage type shots and then execute our next shot with strong focus. We’ll also look to keep the pressure on our opponents by choosing the simplest shot to execute rather than gambling too often. The key is to force your opponent to string together enough shots to win a hole by keeping yourself in good position and then capitalizing on your own good shots.”

Despite the team’s enthusiasm and preparation, Kubinski also admitted there will be some challenges for the first tournament of 2017.

“I think the greatest challenge for us this weekend will be to keep our focus all the way around, given it’s our first team competition since October,” Kubinski said. “We’ll work to stay mentally sharp going into each shot, staying positive and focused. We did a nice job of that last weekend so I’m looking forward to this next opportunity.”

Kubinski also said the team has high hopes for this season and that a strong performance in the Yestingsmeier Match Play could propel it forward.

“We have a goal of returning to the NCAA tournament this season and then making a strong run there with a team who, at that point, will have gained enormous experience,” Kubinski said. “We’re starting three freshmen and two sophomores in our six-man lineup this weekend. It’s a talented and hungry group. To achieve our goals though, we must have each player showing emotional maturity and playing with good focus, good energy, on each shot.”

The rounds Monday and Tuesday both begin at 8:30 a.m. with shotgun starts. Live scoring may be found at golfstatresults.com.

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