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Men’s Golf: Irish advance to NCAA championships

Conor Kelly | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In a season that saw members of the Irish golf program garner impressive individual accolades, the team has a chance to advance to the NCAA championships, a feat no Irish squad has ever achieved.

After a fall and spring season of competition and a Big East championship, the Irish, led by Big East Coach of the Year Jim Kubinski and Player of the Year senior Max Scodro, head to Ann Arbor, Mich., from May 17 to the 19 for the NCAA regional tournament. Kubinski attributed the team’s success to its grueling schedule in the middle of the season.

“We started the season well, but we got into a stretch where we really didn’t play our best golf at the end of the fall and beginning of the spring season,” Kubinski said. “We really took our lumps in March, but playing in the best tournaments in the Southeast was really key for us.”

After finishing 12th, 16th and 13th respectively in March at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Ga., Linger Longer Invitational in Statesboro, Ga. and All American Intercollegiate in Houston Kubinski said his team’s psyche could have suffered.

“I give all the credit to the guys for keeping their heads up during the rough stretches when we were really struggling to put up four solid scores,” Kubinski said. “Golf is a game of confidence and momentum, and I think we’re trending in the right direction.”

Kubinski’s optimism heading into the NCAA regional tournament is a result of the team’s improved play over the past month, highlighted by victories in the Battle at the Warren at Notre Dame and the Big East championship in Orlando, Fla. The Irish beat out second-place Louisville by 16 strokes in a convincing victory for their second-straight conference championship.

Of course, it also does not hurt to have the two-time Big East Golfer of the Year. Scodro displayed impressive consistency over the fall and spring seasons, at one point placing in the top 25 in seven consecutive tournaments, a feat Kubinski said sets him apart from the rest of the Irish squad.

“I’m amazed at Max’s consistency of good play,” Kubinski said. “Golf is an up-and-down game, but Max has been consistently this good for two years. We’re happy to have him now, but we’ll be watching him on TV in a couple years.”

Scodro will headline the Irish lineup, as Notre Dame will compete against a field that features top-10 teams Oregon and Southern California at the NCAA regionals. The Irish need a fifth-place finish in the field of 13 to move on to the NCAA championships.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” Kubinski said. “We’re going to do something we haven’t done before.”

Contact Conor Kelly at [email protected]