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Men’s Golf: Unsung players get shot at Warren Tournament

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, April 24, 2012

They aren’t in the headlines or even in the Irish lineup on a regular basis, but six members of the Irish team have been waiting and working in the background for their opportunity to come.

These golfers received their chance to play Sunday, when all six competed as individuals in Notre Dame’s winning performance at the Battle at the Warren, the team’s lone home event of the spring.

While the tournament allowed the Irish lineup a chance to fine-tune its game before heading into postseason play, it also represented an opportunity for the other golfers on the team to gain valuable match experience – something that is tough to come by when only five golfers can compete in most collegiate events.

“It’s tough for those guys [not consistently in the lineup],” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “They are developing players and being at home and not getting tournament experience makes it a challenge when we get into those competitive situations. They are really at a disadvantage sometimes, but to a man, they have worked so hard.

“That’s one of the reasons we host an event in the fall and the spring, to make sure everybody has a couple of tournament opportunities.”

Of the individual entrants in the tournament, Irish sophomore Andrew Carreon finished atop the leaderboard with a total score of 150. The Texas native recovered from a shaky morning round of 80 with a strong second-round performance to shoot a one-under-par 70.

“Andrew Carreon had a tough start in the morning,” Kubinski said. “He struggled, shot 80 in the morning, but he came back and shot 70 in the afternoon – one of only four rounds under-par out of 72 rounds. That just shows what kind of competitiveness is there and what kind of game.”

Irish sophomore Andrew Lane and Irish freshman Tyler Wingo followed Carreon with scores of 154 and 155, respectively. Both Lane and Wingo received opportunities earlier this year to compete in spring events, as Lane entered The Schenkel Invitation in mid-March and Wingo competed in The Match Play in February.

“Tyler won three matches for us at The Match Play when we took six players there,” Kubinski said. “He is really a kid with a very bright future. He is going to play a lot of tournaments over the summer, get himself ready for next season because I think he can step in. Andrew Lane has been making a swing change this year for the better. He has had some really good rounds, especially at the qualifying and even at the Schenkel.”

Rounding out the group of individual entrants for the Irish were freshmen Peyton Vitter and Patrick Grahek alongside junior walk-on Eddie Hjerpe. While none of the three have made an impact this year as part of the Irish lineup, their successes in their high school and junior accomplishments are strong signs of potential, Kubinski said.

“The freshmen like Patrick and Peyton had very good junior golf careers,” Kubinski said. “Peyton had won the Southern Junior last summer. Patrick was the Georgia high school champion. It’s just a matter of getting some time in the lineup and a chance to get some experience to get their feet wet. They just need that opportunity.”

Because many of Notre Dame’s golfers are unable to compete in collegiate tournaments during the year, they must gain experience by playing in events and tournaments in the summer months. With four Irish golfers graduating this year, the summer preparation for the fall season will be a determining factor for who fills in the open spots, Kubinski said.

“We have two good incoming players, so I think it’s going to be a really competitive situation for us come August because we will potentially have six, seven or eight guys fighting for maybe three or four lineup spots,” Kubinski said. “It’s going be very competitive, but I think the key for all these players is to take the good things they did this year in stretches and then go play a nice summer schedule of tournaments, which they typically do, and really gain some experience and be ready for the fall.”

While many of these golfers will look towards the summer for their next tournaments, the Irish lineup will prepare for the upcoming Big East championships this weekend in Orlando, Fla.

Contact Peter Steiner at [email protected]