Notre Dame battles to a tenth-place finish at ACCs
Connor Mulvena | Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Facing quite a competitive field which included five of the nation’s top-25 teams at Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, South Carolina, the Irish finished 10th in the ACC championship with a three-round score of 900, 36-over par. For head coach Jim Kubinski, it was a tournament of missed chances.
“We felt we were in position to accomplish something pretty significant at about the midway point,” he said.“We had it six-under as a team with our guys playing holes 6 through 11 in that second round, which saw us move up to fourth at that point. We had beaten some top-ranked teams in that first round, so momentum seemed on our side. We just ran into a bad stretch finishing Round two and, although we came out strong early in Round three, with three players under par, I think chasing as hard as we did took its toll.”
The ACC championship this year came with a course change from the usual Old North State Club of New London, North Carolina to Musgrove Mill. And while the last-minute change caused some difficulties, Kubinski lauded the hospitality of the ACC staff and the Musgrove Mill crew.
“[It was] as impressive as I’ve seen at any tournament in my career,” he said. …“I think the only thing I would like to see altered there would be to transition some of the waste areas, areas just off the green, to traditional bunkers. Players from all teams really struggled with the consistency of the waste areas, which would be OK for terribly errant shots but there were several waste areas within a few yards of the hole.”
In the first round, the Irish lineup of senior Blake Barens, sophomore Ben Albin, sophomore Kevin Connors, freshman Davis Lamb and senior Matthew Rushton all finished within the top 35. Led by Barens, who shot an even 72, good enough for 19th, the team finished with 293, and were in seventh place, only one shot behind No. 9 Wake Forest.
With rain on the forecast for Sunday, the final two rounds were both played on Saturday. In the end, all five team members finished in the top 50, led by Rushton, who shot a seven-over 223 to come in 30th place.
Despite a less than ideal finish to the season, Kubinski applauded his team for their efforts.
“Blake’s ability to overcome two double bogeys in the first round and lead the team at 72 was a highlight, as was Davis Lamb’s three birdies in his last four holes to finish out that first round,” he said. “It’s impressive to see a freshman able to overcome some frustrating holes and play outstanding golf to finish a round. I think we saw that with Kevin too, who had a tough second round and, again, put it behind him to lead the team in the final round. Matt Rushton did a nice job too. He hadn’t played in the lineup all semester but led our squad for the event.”
And with a relatively young squad, Kubinski and the Irish are already looking forward to next season.
“We’re really excited for 2017-18,” Kubinski said. “Our starting lineup this season was largely 60-80 percent freshmen and sophomores, so the experience gained for so many returning players, coupled with the push up the leaderboard midway through this week, gives us a great deal of optimism that we can push into contention next season for an ACC crown.
“We have some work to do but we have improved the last couple of years, now being in the ACC, so it’s a matter of continuing to push each other, players and coaches.”