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Men’s Golf: Home invitational results in another second-place finish

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two tournaments into the season and the Irish are still searching for their first win after another second place finish Tuesday. After a close runner-up finish at the College of Charleston Invitational, Notre Dame entered the Fighting Irish Golf Classic at the Warren Golf Course this week looking to defend last year’s first place but finished runner-up to No. 15 Iowa.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski acknowledged the frustration, but said he was still impressed with his team’s effort.

“That’s two seconds in a row where we either had the lead or a share of the lead,” Kubinski said. “The guys are doing well to put themselves in good positions to win, so I’m happy about that.”

Notre Dame remained tied with the Hawkeyes after the first two rounds, but Iowa was too much for the Irish down the stretch, firing a 286 final round to finish with a 13-over 853 for the tournament.

Notre Dame shot a 292 third round to finish with 19-over-par.

“I would say that we played OK, but they played really well,” Kubinski said of the Hawkeyes. “They won their first tournament by a wide margin. They outplayed us and they deserved to win.”

Despite the finish, Irish fans can draw encouragement from the play of junior golfer Tom Usher, who finished in a tie for first in last year’s Big East Finals but struggled at the College of Charleston invitational. On the Warren Course, he fired a two-over-par 212, good enough to tie for seventh place in the individual standings.

“I was pleased to see Tom back,” Kubinski said. “We expect his scores to count just about every time.”

The Irish count on the contributions of Usher throughout the season, along with fellow juniors Max Scodro and Chris Walker and freshman Niall Platt.

“We need those three juniors,” Kubinski said. “Along with Niall, those four guys are our cornerstone.”

The fifth scoring member of the Notre Dame squad at the Fighting Irish Golf Classic was senior Connor Alan-Lee. Left out of the starting lineup at Notre Dame’s first tournament, Alan-Lee shot a 15-over-par 225 for three rounds.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased,” Kubinski said of the senior’s performance. “I was very proud. At no point did he quit battling.”

Next up for Notre Dame is the Firestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio at the Firestone Country Club on Oct. 11-12.

As usual, the Irish will enter expecting to compete for a win, and coach Kubinski believes Tuesday’s finish will only add to the team’s desire to win.

“This finish is extra motivation. They’d like to go tee it up at Firestone tomorrow,” he said.