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Men’s Golf: Irish looking to rebound after tenth-place finish

Joe Meixell | Friday, September 26, 2008

After a 10th-place finish at the USF Olympic Club Intercollegiate earlier this month, Notre Dame will try to get its season on track at the Saint Mary’s Invitational this weekend.

The Saint Mary’s College (California)-hosted event will be held at the Poppy Hills Golf Club in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Irish coach James Kubinski is not dwelling on his team’s early struggles.

“I’m honestly not disappointed with the USF event,” Kubinski said. “Like any team playing a first tournament or game, you’re not sure what you have, or have to work on, until you start competing. Coaches will always tell you it takes a couple games to reduce the turnovers and get in ‘game shape.’ It’s the same here.”

After outstanding summer seasons from several of its golfers and a roaring tour through Ireland early last month, Notre Dame had high hopes for its fall season opener at the USF Olympic Intercollegiate Invitational. However, the Irish were unable to recover from two disappointing opening rounds, and finished 10th in a field of 15.

“We’ll be fine,” Kubinski said. “We needed an event. I think, in not playing as well as we can, yet putting up reasonable, if not great, scores, we proved we can compete for wins when we do play well.”

Although veteran juniors Doug Fortner and Carlos Santos-Ocampo had poor outings, three sophomores distinguished themselves for the Irish. Tyler Hock played with consistency to lead the team in scoring, finishing five-over for the weekend, tied for 16th overall. Fellow sophomores Jeff Chen and Connor Alan-Lee also turned in respectable showings, illustrating the strength of the team’s underclassmen.

Kubinski considers the development of the younger players to be key for Notre Dame’s success this season.

“It’s truly an thrilling time for our program,” Kubinski said. “Notre Dame is stocked with very hard-working and talented young players. We just need that breakthrough win. As long as we keep working and keep our goal in sight, it will come.”

The tournament begins Sunday morning at the Poppy Hills Golf Club at 8 a.m., with play concluding Tuesday afternoon.