Sept. 23, 2013
By Staci Gasser
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After day one of the 2013 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, the University of Notre Dame is sixth among 13 teams on the team leaderboard after posting rounds of 294-291-585, immediately behind the College of Charleston and Yale.
Houston, Georgia Southern and Michigan State are in the top three spots, respectively, after the golfers played two 18-hole rounds back-to-back in a five-player lineup, lowest four score counts format.
Freshman Matt Rushton carded the lowest opening day for the Irish with a 74-70 (144), putting him in 15th place. He hit six greens in the morning round, and logged 14 greens in regulation during the afternoon 18.
Junior Patrick Grahek (70-76) and senior Niall Platt each shot 146 for the day, tying for 19th at day’s end. Platt had a bad break in round one when he his ball caked in the mud on 18. The ball kicked straight left on his next shot, ultimately leading to a triple bogey. The Irish tri-captain fired a 74 in round one but came back strong with a 72 in the afternoon.
“Seventy-two is a really good score,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “I thought par was probably 74 out there today, anyway. It was very challenging.”
Junior Tyler Wingo is in 26th after shooting 74-73 (147) in his opening rounds.
“I love how Tyler hung in there this afternoon,” Kubinski said. “He shot 40 going out but shot 33 coming in. So in terms of attitude and staying positive, he did a fantastic job.”
The Irish starting lineup for the tournament includes three freshmen, Blake Barens, Liam Cox and Rushton, and in the group’s second collective tournament at the collegiate level, frustration seemed to take hold.
“We had a couple of freshmen I thought that played a little frustrated,” Kubinski said. “They got down on themselves so we will have to work on that. But they are freshmen, so we have the time to be able to work on that.”
Cox ended the day with a 75-76 effort, tying with teammate and senior tri-captain Andrew Lane (76-75) at 151. Barens shot 72-81 (153).
Kubinski said that the talented Barens and Cox are working toward bringing the same approach to tournament play they have taken in the opening qualifying rounds.
“They need to not try to do extra and put more pressure on themselves,” Kubinski said. “I think they are thinking more team, team. But they need to take care of their own emotions and stay positive in their game.”
For the Notre Dame team as a whole, the end of the first night is about reflecting on the first two rounds and putting it all together overnight for the final round. The Irish are trying to capture their second Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic championship after winning the team title back in 2009. Notre Dame’s Josh Sandman fought off Lamar’s Kevin Hesbois by two strokes for an Irish sweep as the tournament medalist that season.
“If we have five guys keep a good attitude and play the way we know they are capable of, we will be in good shape tomorrow,” Kubinski said.
Round three is set to begin Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Warren Golf Course.