Rushton wins first collegiate title
Sean Kilmer | Monday, August 31, 2015
Playing at a breakneck pace Sunday, Notre Dame junior Matt Rushton claimed the individual title in the Irish Kickoff Classic, while the team as a whole finished second behind Toledo.
The Irish (287-292-579) hosted Toledo (282-285-567) and IUPUI (286-293-579) at the Warren Golf Course in the second annual, two-round tournament. Rushton scored two consecutive 68’s to finish six-under par (136) to claim the title. It was Rushton’s first collegiate victory, and he is immediately seeing the results of his hard work over the summer, Irish head coach James Kubinski said.
“It’s great to see a player rewarded for a lot of hard work and dedication,” Kubinski said. “Matt is committed to chasing lofty goals.
“He has grown a great deal these last couple of years, and it’s not by accident. I anticipate continued improvement and want his teammates to follow his lead in this way.”
Although no other Irish golfer finished in the top 10, all of Notre Dame’s starting lineup placed within the top 20. In their Irish debut, freshmen Ben Albin (72-76-148) and Miguel Delgado (71-77-148) tied for 11th, along with junior Blake Barens.
Albin and Delgado opened the day strong with scores of 72 and 71, respectively, but encountered a few tough holes in the second round that landed them five- (76) and six-over par (77), respectively. Barens shot a six-over-par 77 in the opening round, but rebounded in the afternoon for even-par 71.
Senior Corey Scuipider (76-77-153) posted an overall 153 for 19th place.
Five Irish golfers also competed as individuals, led by freshmen Kevin Connors (74-75-149) in his debut tournament. Sophomore Jens Verhey (73-77-150) followed at 16th place. Junior Liam Cox (81-74-155) and sophomore Thomas Steve (79-76-155) tied for 20th. Senior Zach Toste (78-78-156) snagged 22nd.
This weekend’s Kickoff Challenge marks Notre Dame’s second consecutive time opening its season with the hosted tournament. Notre Dame’s overall team score of 579 (+11) was well over par, compared to their last year’s total of 561 (-7).
Despite the higher score this time around, Kubinski said his team showed some promising signs and gained valuable experience for the upcoming season.
“We’re disappointed in picking up a loss [Sunday],” Kubinski said. “I give Toledo credit for posting four solid scores each round. We posted three in the morning and two in the afternoon, which wasn’t enough to post a win.
“At the same time, we accomplished some things today and identified areas to improve before Duke. One loss, over a schedule of over 100 head to heads, isn’t something we’ll get caught up in. It’s on to our next opportunity.”
Notre Dame now looks ahead to its first ACC face off of the season against rival Duke at the Rod Myers Invitational against Duke on Sept. 12-13 at the Duke Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina.