Irish finish fourth at Badger Invitational, bouncing back after difficult first round
Connor Mulvena | Friday, September 15, 2017
Under the direction of new head coach John Handrigan, the Irish placed fourth this weekend in the Badger Invitational.
The tournament was held at University Ridge Golf Course, home of the University of Wisconsin. The course was a challenging one, as its menacing length provided a test to the team’s mid-iron consistency, coming in at as many as 7,259 yards from the tournament tees. Handrigan lauded the course for its condition and its innovations which included quick greens and testing tee shots.
“It’s a big course, as far as land, and it’s in great shape,” Handrigan said. “Definitely some good greens on the faster side, definitely faster than what we’re used to, so it took a little time to adapt, but other than that it was a great golf course and a good test of golf.”
The field this weekend was also a challenging one, as it featured several teams who made last year’s NCAA tournament, including Texas A&M and Iowa State. Nevertheless, the Irish held their own, and then some. Handrigan was pleased with his team’s competitive spirit throughout the weekend, as he noted the extent of the challenge which the field presented.
“It was a very competitive field,” Handrigan said. “There were several teams there who made the NCAA tournament last year, not just regionals but the national tournament, so it was a good test for us and we competed hard with those teams. … The field was highly ranked.”
The squad’s fourth place finish was not without struggle. The team found itself in sixth place at 4-over-par after a slow start on the first day, forcing it to play catch-up as the rounds proceeded. But the Irish prevailed under pressure, eventually lifting themselves to 14-under par, a significant feat after what could have been a demoralizing beginning. Handrigan was proud of his team’s persistence.
“The biggest challenge was the first day,” Handrigan said. “We started off pretty slow, I think we were in about 13th place and roughly 13-over-par through the first nine holes so obviously we finished quite a bit under par, I think we were 14-under and at one point we were 14-over, so to work on those first nine holes with a tough start and battle back and get all the way to fourth place was pretty impressive for our guys, and to finish at 14-under when you were 13-over was a pretty big turnaround.”
Individually, a few team members shone at the Badger Invitational. Ben Albin, a junior from Santa Fe, New Mexico, finished in third place and shot a 66 in the final round despite a triple bogey early in the round. Freshman Davis Chatfield shot a 67 in the second round, and sophomore Davis Lamb followed suit with a 68 in the final round.
“Everyone on the team contributed,” Handrigan said. “ … Each day we had one or two guys going pretty low, so it was definitely beneficial to the team.”
Going forward, Handrigan is looking for the team to heighten its course management proficiency.
“A big thing we’ve been working on is course management, and it’s good for these guys to go out there and test it under the gun in competition,” Handrigan said. “I think most of the guys saw the benefits of our strategic attack on the course management side of it, so we’re going to continue to work on that, and obviously success breeds confidence so we learned that we got a lot of confidence from this first tournament, especially the last two rounds, and I think the guys are eager to get back on the road and compete as they have a lot of self-belief right now.”
Next up for the Irish is is the Shoal Creek Invitational, which will be played at Shoal Creek Country Club in Shoal Creek, Alabama, on Sept. 25 and 26.