NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's golf team began its 2014-15 season with a tournament victory on Sunday, downing both IUPUI and Ball State to claim the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge at the Warren Golf Course. The Irish carded team rounds of 281-280-561 (-7) to win the event by 19 strokes over IUPUI (286-294-580) and 25 shots over Ball State (293-293-586).
"I'm proud of our complete team effort today," Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. "We've been searching for those third and fourth counting scores the last couple of seasons. Make no mistake, though, today's good play was part of a maturation process from those seasons. Our players have invested themselves on a good road and today was great validation for them."
Senior Patrick Grahek carded the low 36-hole round in the Notre Dame starting lineup, firing a first round four-under-par 67 before coming in with an afternoon score of two-under 69. Grahek (67-69-136) shared tournament medalist honors with IUPUI's Santiago Ruiz (70-66-136) at six-under-par.
"Patrick picked right up where he left off at April's ACC Championship," Kubinski said. "Today's opening 67 matched that round but the follow up 69 was as impressive, considering he was in the hunt to win the tournament individually. Patrick played beautifully from tee to green all day, and he made a five-footer for par on 18 to tie for the individual title.
"I loved how he stayed in his routine, didn't rush that putt, found his comfort zone and rolled it in dead center," Kubinski added. "Just a great job (by Patrick) showing a lot of heart."
Sophomore Matt Rushton also turned in a sub-140 scorecard, opening with a morning round of three-under 68 before closing with a 70 (-1) during his second 18 (68-70-138, -4) to claim solo third place. Rushton stumbled out of the gate during his afternoon round with a double bogey-bogey start, only to follow with five birdies over his final seven holes on the front nine for an outward score of 33.
"Matthew had the strongest summer of all our players, and his committed work showed that today," Kubinski said. "If not for a little hiccup start to round two, double bogey-bogey, he's right there to win too. What was exciting, though, was the maturity he showed after that tough start in staying positive, regrouping, and running in five birdies in his next seven holes."
Junior Cory Sciupider bounced back from a morning 75 to tie Ruiz for the low individual round of the event, carding a five-under 66 in the afternoon to finish at one-under par overall (75-66-141). Sciupider found trouble at the start and finish of each nine in his first round with double bogies at No. 1 and No. 18, but flourished on his afternoon outward nine with a score of 31 to set the tone for his team-low round and a fourth place result.
"Cory was another example of one of our guys putting a bad hole or two behind them and moving on, moving on in a big way," Kubinski said. "He ended round one with a double bogey, walked to the first tee for round two with no break and shot 66, (an) awesome job."
Sophomore Blake Barens posted scores of 73-75 to finish at 148 (+6) and in a tie for 10th place, while freshman Thomas Steve rounded out the Irish starting lineup with a 149 (73-76) total and a share of 11th. Senior David Lowe (75-77-152), sophomore Liam Cox (81-77-158) and junior Zach Toste (87-75-162) each competed unattached in the individual draw.
"I was very happy to see all five players, including a freshman, Thomas, count in our team score at least one round," Kubinski said. "We'll get back to work this week with some good feelings, with an eye on more improvement in this process."
Notre Dame resumes its 2014 fall campaign at the Minnesota Gopher Invitational on Sept. 7-8 at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn.
Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge-Warren Golf Course-Par-71, 7,023 Yds.
TEAMS (Final): 1. Notre Dame 281-280-561, -7; 2. IUPUI 286-294-580, +12; 3. Ball State 293-293-586, +18.
TOP-10 INDIVIDUALS (Final): T1. Patrick Grahek (Notre Dame) 67-69-136, -6; T1. Santiago Ruiz (IUPUI) 66-70-136, -6; 3. Matt Rushton (Notre Dame) 68-70-138, -4; 4. Cory Sciupider (Notre Dame) 75-66-141, -1; T5. McCormick Clouser (Ball State) 76-68-144, +2; T5. Derek Kundenreich* (Ball State) 73-71-144, +2; 7. Derek Rohlfing (IUPUI) 73-73-146, +4; T8. Zach Yinger (Ball State) 73-74-147, +5; T8. Mike Makris (Ball State) 72-75-147, +5; T10. Blake Barens (Notre Dame) 73-75-148, +6; T10. Juan Pablo Segurola (IUPUI) 74-74-148, +6; T10. Albert Jennings* (Ball State) 75-73-148, +6.
NOTRE DAME INDIVIDUALS (Final): T1. Patrick Grahek 67-69-136, -6; 3. Matt Rushton 68-70-138, -4; 4. Cory Sciupider 75-66-141, -1; T10. Blake Barens 73-75-148, +6; T11. Thomas Steve 73-76-149, +7; T14. David Lowe * 75-77-152, +10; 16. Liam Cox * 81-77-158, +16; 17. Zach Toste * 87-75-162, +20.
*- played as an individual