Irish prepare to hit the links at the Rod Myers Invitational
Kit Loughran | Thursday, September 10, 2015
The Irish continue their fall tournament play at Duke’s sixth annual Rod Myers Invitational (RMI) on Sept. 12-13 at the Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina.
The 54-hole tournament will open with 36 holes of play Saturday, followed by a final round Sunday.
Notre Dame will compete against Duke and 12 other teams, including Davidson, East Carolina, Kansas, Kansas State, Liberty, Loyola (Maryland), Maryland, Penn State, Tulsa, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington and Wake Forest. The Irish will also get a taste of their ACC competition — in playing Duke — for the first time this season.
“We’re looking to increase the number of quality scores posted each round [in this tournament],” Irish head coach James Kubinski said. “All teams would like to have five solid scores to choose from, for the team’s four counting scores.
“We feel we can get there. We’d like to get started this week by improving upon the number of rounds posted at 73 or lower.”
East Carolina stands the reigning champion at the RMI after registering a 15-under 561 in the 2014 rain-shortened RMI last October, while Notre Dame claimed its fourth top-10 finish of the 2014 fall slate with a ninth-place finish (296-300-596).
Junior Matt Rushton tied for second place last year to clinch his second career top-five finish. Rushton posted two under-par rounds of 68 and 71 during the weekend to tie for runner-up at 139 (-5). He finished just two strokes behind first place finisher George Kilgore of East Carolina (68-69-137, -7). Barens played as an unattached competitor, claiming a share of 64th place at 159 (81-78).
“As a team, we are looking for this tournament to jumpstart our season and be a confidence-builder moving into the bulk of our fall season schedule,” junior Blake Barens said. “Individually I’m looking for the same: to have a top finish in a strong event, which would kick the season off just how I would like.”
While the Blue Devils will open their season this weekend, the Irish already have some tournament play under their belt. Notre Dame hosted and competed in the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on August 30 at the Warren Golf Course. Rushton took home the title for his first-career win with two three-under-par rounds of 68 (136). Barens tied for 11th place with scores of 77 and 71 (148). Overall, the Irish tied with IUPUI for second with a total score of 579, while Toledo won the Challenge with a 567 team score.
“We really appreciated the Kick Off Challenge prep,” Kubinski said. “Several lessons were learned, especially by our younger guys … our freshmen.
“It’s a challenge to compete that first weekend of school, with all that a first week in college is. We seem much more comfortable now though, very focused. I really like our vibe this year.”
Notre Dame’s top-five finishers at the Kickoff included a mix of veterans and new faces last weekend. Recently named captains Rushton and Barens and senior Cory Scuipider made up the upperclassmen, while two freshmen Ben Albin and Miguel Delgado saw their first action on-course for the Irish.
“We have had a lot of preparation for this [RMI] event since we just finished a six-round qualifier Sunday to finalize the lineup,” Barens said. “Four out of the five starters have played the course before, so we can all bring our own insights of the golf course to prepare each other.”
Like last year’s weather-shortened event, the Irish are anticipating similar, though minor, challenges, Barens said.
“Our biggest challenge heading into this event is being prepared for a golf course that will probably have different conditions in every round that we play,” Barens said.
“There is some weather that is expected to come in over the weekend so we will need to be able to make adjustments with the golf course conditions.”
With preparation and a determined mindset, Barens said the Irish are excited to continue moving through this new season and to make an impact on the course.
“All 10 guys are fighting to get into the lineup [this season], and each player is focused on improving on their game on an individual level which really helps out the team,” Barens said. “We also have three solid freshman players who came in this year that have already [helped] make an immediate positive impact on the team.”
The Irish head into their second tournament of the fall this weekend at the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina. The teams are set to tee off on Saturday at 7:40 a.m.