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Men’s Golf: Irish travel to Augusta

Joe Quinn | Friday, March 31, 2006

Notre Dame will head south to Augusta, Ga. this weekend to take part in the Augusta State Invitational at Champions Retreat Golf Club.

After finishing eighth at the Border Olympics March 18 and 11th at the General Jim Hackler Invitational March 13, the Irish are anxious to start competing for tournament championships, and, Irish coach Jim Kubinski said, there’s no better place for that than Augusta.

“Just the name Augusta brings to mind thoughts of championship golf,” Kubinski said. “I feel we are ready to start playing our A-game, and what better place to do it than Augusta, Georgia.”

Kubinski said he hopes this is the weekend where the team returns to the form it showed in the fall.

“We had such a strong fall season, I just want the guys to match that this weekend,” he said. “We played top-20 golf [all fall] and now is the time to prove to everyone else that we are a top-20 program.”

The Irish will take on some of the top teams in the country in Augusta. UCLA leads the field coming in ranked No. 5 in the country according to the GCAA/Bridgestone Top 25.

In addition to the Bruins, the tournament field boasts three top 20 teams – East Tennessee State (No. 11), Tennessee (No. 12) and Clemson (No. 14).

Besides the four top-20 teams, there are five more teams just outside the top 25 and the top ranked team in Division II, South Carolina – Aiken.

While the Irish are one of the few teams competing in Augusta that is not ranked in the top 50, Kubinski said he is confident about their chances.

“If we can play like I know we can play, we’ll show that we’re closer to the team we were in the fall than the one that’s been playing this spring,” he said.

Kubinski is going to tweak his line-up for the weekend, adding freshman Josh Sandman. Sandman’s outstanding play in qualifying rounds this past week, according to Kubinski, is the reason for the move.

“We played in three [qualifying rounds] this past week and [Josh] finished behind only Cole [Isban] and Scott [Gustafson],” Kubinski said.

Kubinski said Sandman’s proficiency near the hole will help the Irish this weekend.

“[Josh] always exhibits fantastic short game. I’m hoping he’ll add a little something to the mix down in Augusta,” Kubinski said.