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Men’s Golf: Irish head south for elite tourney

Pete Reisenauer | Friday, March 14, 2008

The Irish will face their toughest competition of the regular season this weekend, facing off against several top teams at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational in Statesboro, Ga.

Regarded as one of college golf’s premier intercollegiate tournaments, the 54-hole event will run March 14-16, at the par-72, 6,962-yard Forest Heights Country Club.

The tournament features some of the best programs in the country with eight of Golfweek’s top 30 teams competing. Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said that he was not necessarily impressed by any team in particular, but more in the field as a whole.

“I do not think that any one team has separated themselves from the rest. I think there are a lot of pretty good teams meaning you could have a great tournament and still finish middle of the pack.” Kubinski said.

This will be the first time that Notre Dame has competed in the E-Z-Go Invitational. The team had their first look at the course during a practice round on Thursday, and Kubinksi was pleased with what he saw.

“I was impressed with four out of the five of our players in the practice round. The fifth one feels more comfortable now, though, as we worked on some stuff with him afterwards. I think this weekend we could have four or five of our guys in play, whereas in the first couple tournaments we have only had one or two.”

Kubinski said the Irish, who finished 12th in the USC Collegiate Invitational on March 3 and 4, know that they have to improve aspects of their games.

“This is our third tournament and we needed to see how we played coming off the winter break when we obviously couldn’t practice because of the snow,” Kubinski said. “We need to drive the ball better, and this course sets up very well for us to do that. We also need to work on our putting game, which despite the undulating hills also sets up nicely for us this weekend.

“We stubbed our toe a bit on the first two, as a good number of our team has played in the Southeast before.” Kubinski said.

While Kubinski recognized the importance of his team as a whole performing better, he also highlighted some individuals. Josh Sandman, coming off a top three finish in California over the break, will look to continue his success.

Kubinski said a few other players need to play at their highest level this weekend for his team to do well.

“Josh goes without saying, but we are expecting Doug [Fortner] to step up this weekend as well. He was our stroke leader before the break and he has not done as well in the last couple of tournaments. We also expect that Tyler Hock will perform better because he is closer to home.” Kubinski said.

The tournament consists of three rounds, beginning today and ending with the final round Sunday.