Irish gear up for first Invitational of the season
Notre Dame will tee off its fall season this Sunday when the squad travels to Madison, Wisconsin, to hit the links at the Badger Invitational.
Irish head coach John Handrigan said his team is ready to begin its competitive season and explained that the golfers are motivated to build on their success from last year.
“They’ve got expectations and they have goals that they want to fulfill individually and as a team,” Handrigan said.
Last season, the Irish garnered a fourth-place finish at the Badger Invitational with a team score of 14-under-par, which tied for the second best 54-hole team score in program history. Texas A&M led the field a year ago at 25 strokes under par.
“We played well at this event last year on that golf course, so we envision doing the same thing again this year,” Handrigan said.
The Badger Invitational, which is hosted by the University of Wisconsin at University Ridge Golf Course, will feature 12 programs from across the nation. Participating schools include Rutgers, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Marquette and Kansas.
Of returning schools, only Marquette and Kansas placed higher than Notre Dame a year ago, shooting 17-under-par and 19-under-par, respectively.
Notre Dame usually travels with five of its 10 golfers, but the program will take eight athletes to Madison this weekend.
“We had a great qualifier,” Handrigan said. “A lot of guys played really well, so we definitely have high hopes.”
Thursday was the final day of qualifying at Notre Dame, the practice rounds that determine which golfers will travel with the team.
Through Wednesday, junior Hunter Ostrom and sophomore Davis Chatfield led the team in their qualifying rounds, and they will both be traveling to Madison, said Handrigan.
Ostrom, a junior from Eagle, Idaho, had one top-10 finish with the Irish last season. Chatfield, a sophomore from Attleboro, Massachusetts, had one top-10 finish a year ago, and he also led the Irish in scoring at two events last season.
The final members of the travel roster had yet to be announced as of Thursday evening, as stiff competition took place over the six-day qualifier between all 10 team members, from senior captain Ben Albin all the way to freshmen Taichi Kho and Andrew O’Leary.
Regardless of the results on the scorecards this weekend, Handrigan hopes to see progress from his team.
“Our goal is to always grow and compete and get better every single week,” Handrigan said.
Handrigan said he wants to see improvements, but he does not want to put too much pressure on the opening Invitational.
“Obviously this week is important, but not one is more important than the other,” Handrigan said. “We’re striving to improve. We did it last year. … We just got better and better as the year went on and played great in the ACC tournament.”
Handrigan said that he hopes the Irish can become a national powerhouse. That march to the top of the leaderboards begins Sunday in Madison.