Men’s Golf awaits NCAA Tournament fate after 11th place finish at ACCs
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Notre Dame men’s golf completed their conference season with an 11th-place finish at the ACC Tournament, and they’ll await their fate as a bubble team when the NCAA Tournament field is announced next Wednesday.
The Irish played 54 holes of golf, with only the top four in the 12-team field advancing to a match-play knockout round. The top four scorers counted in each round for the Irish, who finished +30 on the weekend. The standings were relatively crowded. After a clear six-team battle for the four match-play spots, the teams on the second half of the leaderboard finished between +19 and +33.
Notre Dame ultimately finished just 7 shots back of Duke in eighth place and 11 back of Virginia in seventh. The match-play championship was won by Clemson, who emerged victorious over Florida State in the championship. Both had survived a strong semifinalist field that was rounded out by North Carolina and NC State.
The Irish got off to a bit of a tough start, shooting a +12 as a team in Round 1, which put them in last place. Junior Taichi Kho shot the hot round for Notre Dame, finishing with even par, while the rest of the squad finished between +3 and +5. Freshman Tucker Clark looked very good early in his ACC Tournament debut, birdieing three of his first five holes, but had some struggles on a back nine that caused trouble for the whole roster, which kept him from scoring for the Irish in round 1.
However, Notre Dame bounced back in Round 2, notching a +1 score as a team, which not only lifted them out of the cellar but put them just a stroke out of eighth place. Kho was blistering hot again for the Irish, this time making just one bogey and collecting birdies on five of the final eight holes for a sizzling -4 round. He entered round three just a shot out of fifth place individually.
Senior Davis Chatfield notched his third birdie of the round on hole 18 to finish with a -1 score. Sophomore Palmer Jackson did have a pair of double-bogeys in his round, but five birdies helped him limit the damage. His birdie on hole 6 was one of just 13 by the entire field for the hole during the tournament, as both he and Clark finished +3 to round out Notre Dame’s scoring.
Teeing off from hole 10 in Round 3, Notre Dame stayed in contention to move up the leaderboard, shooting a +4 as a team through the first nine holes. Clark and Chatfield notched a pair of birdies to stay at even par as a duo on the first five holes.
However, the team shot +13 as a squad over the first nine holes. The Irish shot +17 for the round and dropped to 11th place for the tournament.
There were still some highlight holes for the Irish, as their entire five-man roster birdied the par-5, 567-yard twelfth hole. Three players also collected a birdie on Hole 5, and each player had multiple birdies for the round. Chatfield finished his senior-year ACC Tournament strong, grabbing a par on the ninth hole, a 523-yard par-4. Only 43% of players collected a par or better — there was just one birdie over the three days — on the hole over the weekend.
Overall, it was a disappointing finish for the Irish, who entered the tournament ranked 26th in the country — the fifth-best ranking in the ACC. They’ll sweat out their NCAA Tournament fate as the tough weekend drops the Irish closer to the bubble.