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Men’s Golf: Irish seek leader at Robert Kepler

Michael Blasco | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

After disappointing showings in its previous two tournaments, Notre Dame is working to put together a solid showing on Saturday at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.

The Irish, who played four tournaments in only 17 days last month, hit the links this weekend against softer competition than they have faced this spring.

Still, Irish Jim Kubinski is hoping that his team tees off like a team on a mission.

“I’d like to see our guys with a little more fire than we’ve exhibited in our last two events,” Kubinski said. “We played soft the last couple of weeks. Win or lose, I’d like to see more Notre Dame spirit, more toughness.”

Notre Dame opened its spring slate with solid showings over Spring Break (second at the Palmas del Mar Intercollegiate, fifth at the Border Olympics), but finished dead last at the prestigious Schenkel Invitational and were sunk by a late collapse at the FAU Spring Break Championship.

After the loss of their only senior, Josh Sandman, to injury, the Irish have featured only one upperclassman, junior Doug Fortner, consistently in their lineup. Freshmen and sophomores have taken the lion’s share of starts throughout the spring, with mixed results. Sophomore Jeff Chen and freshman Max Scodro have each had solid springs, but the team has been inconsistent on the whole.

Kubinski admitted the lack of a steady leader has been a weak spot for Notre Dame lately.

“I’m looking for someone to step up with fire and determination and say, ‘Follow me. I’ll show you how to win,'” Kubinski said. “We need that. A coach can set the tone but players must also push each other.”

The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate features a less demanding field than the Irish have faced in recent tournaments. The 7,455-yard, par 71 course, however, is one of the toughest venues in the collegiate circuit and should give a young Notre Dame squad enough headaches.

The Irish tee off with two rounds Saturday morning, before concluding play on Sunday. The tournaments marks Notre Dame’s return to the links after a two-week break.