March 14, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 51st-ranked University of Notre Dame men's golf team returns to NCAA action this weekend when it tees off at the prestigious Shenkel Invitational Friday-Sunday at the Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Ga.
The three-day tournament, hosted by Georgia Southern University, features a 14-team field playing one round of golf on each of the three days of competition. Tee times begin at 9:00 a.m. (ET) off a split-tee start on holes one and 10 each day.
"It's great to once again be back in Statesboro for the Schenkel," stated Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. "It's such a special tournament. Started for former golf announcer Chris Schenkel, it's one of the oldest running tournaments in college golf. It's also an exemplary event in terms of a community getting behind a golf tournament. I wish all our tournaments had the local support we enjoy in Statesboro. From the membership at Forest Heights, to the volunteers, golf course staff and the Georgia Southern sorority who donate their time and offer so much support, it's a pleasure to compete in the Schenkel."
The Irish enter the event with an overall record of 36-29-1 on the year, while ranking 51st in the Golfstat polls and 55th according to Golfweek. Notre Dame last competed at The Match Play, claiming the championship with four consecutive wins to best the 12-team field. On the year, Notre Dame has recorded three top-five team finishes, while seeing its five-man rotations earn a total of 12 individual top-25 results, led by Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) who has finished in the top 25 at each of the first five stroke play events.
SCHENKEL INVITATIONAL HISTORY: This marks the 33rd season for the Schenkel Invitational. Of this year's field, host Georgia Southern has competed in each of the previous 32 tournaments, with South Carolina (29), Auburn (28) and Florida (27) following closely behind. UAB is making only its second appearance at the event.
Last season, Auburn claimed its second straight Shenkel Invite title, knocking off Florida on the first playoff hole. Both team's completed the 54-hole tournament with a score of 848 (-16) to finish 10 shots clear of the remainder of the field. The Tigers then posted the lowest aggregate five-man score on the first playoff hole to defeat the Gators. Despite losing the team title, Florida's Bank Vongvanij claimed individual medalist honors with a 207 (-9).
IRISH AT THE SCHENKEL: Notre Dame will be making its fourth appearance at the Golf World-dubbed "Collegiate Championship of the East" this season. Last year, the Irish finished in 12th place amongst the 15-team draw, finishing at 24-over par (888). The finish matched Notre Dame's previous-best finish at the event, when the squad again tied for 12th with a three-day aggregate of 888.
IRISH LINEUP: Notre Dame looks to feature its typical five-man lineup of seniors Scodro, Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) and Tom Usher (Baildon, England) as well as junior Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) and sophomore Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif.). The five competitors have served as the lineup at each of the seven events this season and all competed at the Schenkel last season. Should the lineup receive a shakeup, sophomore Andrew Lane (Fairport, N.Y.) is prepared to relocate from an individual entrant in the tournament to the fifth man in the rotation.
"Our starting lineup looks to be back in full from last season's appearance," remarked Kubinski. "Assuming Paul is healthy enough to go, we'll return all five. Andrew Lane is set to compete as an individual but will be ready to go if called upon. I think we learned a lot last season. Other than Max, none of our players had competed at Forest Heights and yet we were poised for a solid finish through 45 holes. We thought we could catch N.C. State for fifth. As it turned out, our poor play those last nine holes dropped us way back but I think it now serves as motivation. We've played more rounds outdoors in South Bend the last month than in my first seven springs combined. We know the golf course in Statesboro. We have all five starters playing well. We expect to contend this year."
THE COURSE: The Schenkel Invitational takes place once again on the famed Forest Heights Country Club. The course lays out as a par-72, 6,962-yard course. Along with playing host to the Schenkel Invitational, it also carries the annual Southeastern Amateur Golf tournament and has hosted the SEC Tournament in years past.
"Forest Heights is a great, great tournament course," stated Kubinski. "It's not a survival test. It's actually a good test that's also fun to play. The hole locations can get tricky but serve to protect some of the easier holes. There are some difficult holes too. More than anything, it requires a great mix of thought and execution. A player will have his birdie chances. If he can play solidly on holes like #10 and #17 and par the Par 3's, a low number is out there. I'm confident we'll put together a good game plan. I also feel our guys will be ready to go come Friday. This week is a chance for us to play against the best competition. We're excited for this opportunity."
THE FIELD: This year's field features 14 teams, including four top-25 squads and six in the top 30. Alongside Notre Dame in this year's field are (Golfstat ranking in parentheses): Alabama (7), Auburn (2), Florida (24), Georgia Southern (93), Kentucky (83), Minnesota (84), N.C. State (65), North Florida (15), South Carolina (58), UAB (29), Vanderbilt (77) and Virginia (26).
THE FORMAT: Typical to most collegiate stroke play events, the Schenkel Invitational features a five-count-four format with 18 holes of golf being played on each of the three days of competition (Friday-Sunday). All three rounds are slated to begin off of a split-tee start at 9:00 a.m. off of holes one and 10.
TRACKING THE TOURNAMENT: Live hole-by-hole scoring of the Schenkel Invitational will be provided by Golfstat.com. Final daily results of competition will be posted via Georgia Southern's official athletics site, while a complete recap of the Irish following each round will be posted to UND.com.