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Men’s Golf: Chen, Alan-Lee emerge as team’s junior leaders

Eric Prister | Wednesday, September 30, 2009

As integral parts of Irish coach Jim Kubinski’s first full recruiting class, juniors Jeff Chen and Connor Alan-Lee are ready to assume their role as upperclassmen and leaders, both on the course and off.

“They have really blossomed over the last year or so,” Kubinski said. “I’ve seen dramatic changes in their approach, confidence and in their willingness to vocalize their thoughts from how they arrived as freshmen.”

Chen and Alan-Lee have been successful in the two matches so far this season for the Irish. All three of Chen’s rounds counted in Notre Dame’s 6th place finish at The Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn., where he finished in a tie for 27th place overall on Sept. 14.

“[Chen] has few weaknesses,” Kubinski said. “He is very solid in every facet of the game. He can improve in each area and should given his work ethic but is without a glaring weakness.”

Alan-Lee shot finished in a tie for 30th and shot a three-under 69 in the first round of the Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tenn., one of only four rounds in the 60s so far for the Irish. He also competed individually in The Gopher Invitational.

“[Alan-Lee] is one of the best strikers of the golf ball not only on our team but, really, any team,” Kubinski said. “He’s working hard at improving his short game. When he elevates that part of his game, he’ll be a top player nationally.”

Both Chen and Alan-Lee bring more to the team than simply their playing ability, focusing on the team’s success over their own.

“During their respective freshman years, I wasn’t sure what kind of leaders they might become down the road and not due to any particular factors,” Kubinski said. “It’s just hard to predict at that point, given the great changes most young people experience throughout their college years.

“Both have gained a great deal of playing experience. More importantly though, they’re both very team oriented, respectful of all around them and dedicated to achieving.”

Chen and Alan-Lee are key components to any future success that the Irish team hopes to have, and Kubinski has no doubt that they will be up to the challenge.

“I can see now that [Chen and Alan-Lee] are both equipped to be outstanding leaders next season,” he said.

Notre Dame will resume action Monday in the first round of the two-day Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic at the Warren Golf Course.