ND travels to Tar Heel country
Kit Loughran | Thursday, October 1, 2015
The Irish return to the course Saturday and Sunday at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate at UNC Finley Golf Course.
The three-round tournament opens Saturday with two rounds scheduled to begin with a 14-team, 11-individual shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. The Irish head into the event after being crowned co-champions with St. Mary’s College (California) of the 2015 Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic at the Warren Golf Course on Sept. 22.
Junior co-captain Blake Barens said last week’s co-championship title gives him and his teammates confidence as they head to North Carolina.
“Having the lead going into the final day of the tournament and responding with some good scores was a big confidence builder for the team,” Barens said. “It was great to be in the lead and have the experience of playing with the lead.
“Hopefully we can use that experience moving into this weekend.”
Barens led the Irish at the Gridiron Classic, tying for second place with a three-under-par 210. He finds himself third on the Irish scoreboard, though, averaging a score of 73.65 per round. While the Irish managed an overall team score of 850 (11-over-par), Barens said the tournament this weekend is an opportunity for the Irish to improve their consistency and reduce errors.
“We need to play more consistent golf,” Barens said. “We can’t have only two or three guys play well this weekend.
“We need all five guys to compete and play well. Individually, I need to stop making careless bogeys and get off to a better start.”
In the past three events, the young members of the Notre Dame squad have excelled on the course. Freshmen Miguel Delgado (72-70-69-211) and Ben Albin (72-73-67-212) placed sixth and seventh, respectively, at the Gridiron Classic. Overall, Albin stands as runner-up for the Irish with an average of 73.38 per round — just behind team leader junior Matt Rushton, who’s managed an average of 72.63 through eight rounds. Fellow freshman Kevin Conners average of 75.60 through five rounds, tying for 56th place at the Gridiron Classic with a total of 229 (77-74-78).
“Ben and Miguel both played awesome when the pressure was on in the home tournament posting top-10 finishes,” Barens said. “That shows they are a lot more comfortable with college golf and have already settled in.
“Kevin played great this last qualifier and looks to be ready to go this weekend.”
With several events behind them, the Irish now face the challenge of taking on UNC at its home course. The Tar Heels are hosting the event after winning the Primland Collegiate Invitational, finishing five strokes above Auburn and 11 strokes over host Wake Forest, while junior Carter Jenkins set the all-time UNC 18-hole record.
“It looks like the course will be wet this week as the forecast calls for rain during the tournament,” Barens said. “A big challenge will also be taking down UNC at their home course but with some good play, we can accomplish that.”
Barens and the Irish set out to conquer that challenge Saturday and Sunday at UNC Finley Golf Course. Saturday’s tee off is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.