Notre Dame prepares for Georgia State Maui Jim Intercollegiate
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, September 22, 2016
The Irish will embark on their first three-day tournament of the season at the Georgia State Maui Jim Intercollegiate, which will begin Friday.
After finishing in a tie for fifth in its first full-field event of the season at the University of San Francisco Olympic Club Intercollegiate, Notre Dame will aim for a higher finish amongst the 14-team field this weekend.
While a top-five finish is by no means a poor one, the Irish were hoping to top the leaderboard at Olympic Club after entering the final round in third place. Various players struggled throughout the round, however, especially on the back nine, causing the Irish to drop two spots into a tie for fifth.
The tournament this week will take place at Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is being hosted by Georgia State. The field this week includes a wide range of schools and golf programs from all over the country, including LSU, who finished last season ranked seventh nationally. Other nationally ranked programs from last year include California, South Carolina, South Florida and Baylor, who all fell within the top-25 in the country at the end of the spring season.
Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski has made it clear so far this season that it is a goal of his to regain Notre Dame’s status on the national level, making the Georgia State Maui Jim Intercollegiate an important opportunity for the Irish.
Irish seniors Matt Rushton and Blake Barens have proven their leadership both on and off the course so far this season. Rushton was the top individual finisher for the Irish in their most recent event, coming in at a tie for fifth. Rushton’s two strong opening rounds of 70 put him in prime position for a top-10 finish, upon which he was able to follow through. Rushton entered the final round in a tie for second place with Barens, who struggled in the final round to finish in a tie for 12th.
The freshmen who gained their first collegiate experience away from home in Notre Dame’s last tournament, Hunter Ostrom and John Felitto, will look to put that experience to the test this weekend in Arizona. Felitto impressed in the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Sept. 3, taking home a win in his first collegiate event by shooting a 65 in the second round of the day. Felitto struggled at the Olympic Club, finishing 21-over-par. Ostrom showed consistency throughout the event, carding three rounds at three-over-par.
The Georgia State Maui Jim Intercollegiate will be the first event of the season for the Irish that will take place over a span of three days. At both tournaments in which Notre Dame has participated, players have played 36 holes in a day, testing both mental and physical stamina. This weekend will provide a different test of golf for the Irish, as they will have to prepare to play a different golf course for each round, as tee and pin locations could be changed between each day, and each round could be played in different conditions.