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Men’s Golf: West-coast trip awaits Irish

Joe Meixell | Monday, October 13, 2008

After a disappointing start to the season, Notre Dame is looking to get its season on track.

The Irish head to La Quinta, Calif., next week, their third west-coast trip this season, to compete in the Prestige at PGA WEST Intercollegiate. Sixteen teams will play three rounds over Monday and Tuesday at the par 72, 7,156-yard Greg Norman Course during the tournament, co-hosted by Stanford and UC Davis.

Despite rough early going for Notre Dame, Irish coach Jim Kubinski is confident that his team will bounce back.

“Sometimes things start to go one way and, regardless of effort or attitude or preparation, a team just doesn’t play to its ability,” Kubinski said. “We’ve seen it in all sports. Yet, often, that same team comes out a week later and gets back to showing good habits and performs to its capabilities. We’re counting on that this week. We know we lost out at home but feel we can rebound with a solid effort this week.”

Frustration and hope in equal measure have marked Notre Dame’s season thus far. The Irish began their campaign with a tenth-place finish at the USF Olympic Intercollegiate, but the real story was the emergence of the team’s young players. Sophomores Tyler Hock, Jeff Chen and Connor Alan-Lee lead Notre Dame in scoring, while highly touted juniors Carlos Santos-Ocampo and Doug Fortner turned in pedestrian efforts. Santos-Ocampo was coming off an appearance in match play at the U.S. Amateur, the first Irish golfer in nearly four decades to do so, while Fortner was still glowing after a simply brilliant tour of Ireland, highlighted by an astonishing 67 at the famed links of Ballybunion.

Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski took the showing at the USF Olympic Intercollegiate in stride, focusing on the progress shown by his young squad.

“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. To be successful, we’ll just need a little time for the young players to learn on the job and grow.”

However, the onus to succeed is on the players, and a fourth-straight mediocre showing is looming unless the team begins to put some shots together.

“Honestly, actions speak louder than words,” Kubinski said. “I expect they’ll bounce back and really show us something. They haven’t lost their resolve after a tough performance. In fact, I think they’re eager to get back out and play Notre Dame golf.”

The first two rounds will begin this morning at 7:30 a.m., with the final round beginning tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. Both days begin with a shotgun start.