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Men’s golf surges into ACC tournament

| Friday, April 23, 2021

The Notre Dame men’s golf team has been playing its best golf heading into the postseason but will face its toughest challenge yet this weekend at the ACC tournament in Milton, Ga. The ACC features six teams in the top 25, including four in the top ten. No. 2 Florida State leads the conference, followed by No. 4 Clemson, No. 6 Wake Forest, and No. 8 North Carolina State. “It’s got to be the best golf conference in the country,” Notre Dame head coach John Handrigan said. “But we’re just trying to focus on ourselves, controlling what we can do, and I think if we do that we’ll put ourselves in a really good spot in this event.”

The Irish have been impressive in recent weeks. After a second-place finish in their most recent outing, the Stitch Intercollegiate, the Irish surged into the top 25. “[I’m] proud of the team for playing really well lately, and our ranking and stats and results have shown it,” Handigran said. 

Their under-39 as a team marked the second lowest score in program history. The Irish have improved their score in each of the five tournaments they have played in, and have placed in the top three teams in each of the last three. “[We’re] definitely trending in a great direction, and I owe it to the team for all their hard work. They’ve done everything that coach [assistant coach Scott] Gump and I have asked throughout the semester,” Handrigan said. 

The tournament features a new format this year with the first two rounds of stroke play on Friday and the third on Saturday. The top four teams will then advance to the semifinals on Sunday, and the finals will be held on Monday. “Our mindset is to just like every other tournament we’ve played in is to go out and win that, even though the top four make it,” Handrigan said. 

Notre Dame is sticking with its usual starting five of freshman Tucker Clark, sophomore Palmer Jackson, senior Davis Chatfield, junior Andrew O’Leary, and junior Taichi Kho, all of whom have been playing very well of late. Clark carded a season low -11 to finish in seventh place at the Stitch Invitational, while Jackson’s best performance of the season came at the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational, where he finished fifth. 

“We had a great week of prep last week, we had some nice weather in South Bend, and [we were] fortunate to play some other courses in the area that we thought were going to be similar to what we’ll see here at the ACC tournament,” Handrigan said. 

Stroke play begins Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. from the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course. Live stats can be found here, and the finals will be streamed Monday beginning at 9 am on ACCNX. After returning from this weekend’s competition, the Irish will begin preparations for the NCAA tournament, which begin May 17. The finals will be held May 28-31 in Scottsdale, Az.

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