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Men’s Golf

Kubinski has ‘great faith’ in squad, new leaders

| Monday, August 25, 2014

After a season that ended with the team finishing seventh in its inaugural ACC championship and one golfer competing at the NCAA regionals, Notre Dame returns to the fairways looking to build on the previous year’s success.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski said he is optimistic for the upcoming fall.

“Our main goal though is always to see our players improving throughout the season,” Kubinski said. “We’ve been successful in this way, in both years, we’ve made an NCAA run and in years when we missed out on NCAAs. It’s a process goal, which is where our focus is and should be.”

There is a hole to be replaced in the Irish lineup, as former team member Niall Platt graduated last year. Platt was one of two Irish golfers to be named to the 2014 All-ACC Academic team, in addition to being the only Notre Dame competitor to qualify for the NCAA Sugar Grove Regionals last season, where he placed 34th.

Kubinski said he is not too worried about replacing the lost talent.

“I see several players with the ability to step up and enjoy success this year, including our incoming freshmen,” Kubinski said. “I don’t see any obvious weakness at this point. I think we’ll be looking for leadership. We don’t have a single player who has been a regular lineup contributor over multiple seasons. Yet, I don’t think that fact is a huge concern. I have great faith leaders will emerge.”

Senior Patrick Grahek said he has a clear idea of how he and others will replace Platt’s presence.

“The other upperclassmen and I will lead by example,” Grahek said. “We will work to bring together a really cohesive team to align ourselves to make it to the postseason, so if we can come together on and off the course to make a good team environment, that will be a huge factor for our success.”

That’s not to say that everything will be a smooth transition, Grahek said.

“Our biggest challenge as a team will be finding the right mix for players to fill out our lineup,” Grahek said. “We have a diverse group of guys in terms of class year. We are heavy upperclassmen-wise, but we have a lot of underclassmen talent, so finding the right team mixture will be a challenge, but once we secure that, we will be able to build from there.”

The first action for the Irish begins with the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge, hosted at Warren Golf Course. Kubinski said he looks forward to the experience it should bring.

“The fall season counts the same as the spring, so a solid start is our expectation,” Kubinski said. “The initial competition, the 36-hole day on August 31, is something we’ve not hosted before but is designed to get us out and acclimated to the 10-hour competition day before we head out on the road for multiple 36-hole days this fall. Playing at home early is a great place to get our guys tested and ready.”

The Irish begin fall play with the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 31 at Warren Golf Course.

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