Paul McNamara (139, -5) paced the Irish on the opening day of the Gopher Invitational and currently sits in first place individually amongst the field.

Irish Atop Leaderboard After First Day At Gopher Invitational

Sept. 11, 2011

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WAYZATA, Minn. – The University of Notre Dame men’s golf team finds itself with a four shot lead after the opening day of the Gopher Invitational on Sunday at Spring Hill Golf Club. Individually, Irish junior Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) leads the tournament field by one shot at five under (139).

The opening day of the tournament featured 36 holes of action that saw the Irish jump out to an eight-shot lead after the opening 18, firing a six-under par, 282. Notre Dame struggled early in its second round of play before battling back to finish at 295 (+7) on the round and conclude the first day at 577 (+1). Arkansas sits in second at 581 (+5) with Charlotte currently placing third at 587 (+11).

“We had a great collective effort today,” said Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. “We don’t have a one-through-five lineup. We have five good players all capable of delivering. We had a very poor nine-hole stretch to start round two, +13 at one point, but we finished in six under. We’ve stressed strong finishes to rounds and our guys got their second wind and came through. We just have to go out tomorrow and finish it.”

McNamara backboned the Irish attack, firing out of the gates with an opening-round 66 (-6). The junior put plenty of red on the scorecard, netting seven birdies and an eagle to go along with just three bogeys. His opening round was highlighted by playing holes 16 through 18 at four under par, putting together an eagle-birdie-birdie string. McNamara’s second round was an up-and-down battle, getting through the first 12 holes at three over before carding two birdies over his final six holes to finish one over (73).

“Paul played a crazy good stretch of holes today in his first round,” remarked Kubinski. “He birdied 14, missed a four footer on 15 and then went eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie. He could have had a -7 in six holes. He has the game to go low. He hits the ball straight, has very good wedges and is an excellent chipper and putter.”

Sophomore Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif.) played consistent golf on his opening day, finishing at 145 (+1) to hold a share of seventh place overall. His first round saw him register three birdies and two bogeys to go along with one double bogey to card a 73 (+1). Platt would improve on that mark by one in his second 18 holes, recording five birdies and five bogeys for a 72 (E).

Much like McNamara, senior Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) got off to a quick start in his opening round, posting four birdies with only two bogeys to notch a two-under par, 70. Scodro’s afternoon round was a bit more of a struggle, however, as he carded two birdies but was hampered by five bogeys and a lone double bogey on the par-four, second hole. His second round 77 (+5) was not counted toward the team count and after the first day Scodro holds a tie for 13th.

Seniors Tom Usher (Baildon, England) and Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) round out the Irish rotation after day one in fourth and fifth, respectively. Usher concluded his day with a 73 (+1) and a 75 (+3) to place in a tie for 20th at four over (148). Walker, meanwhile, put together a 76 (+4) and a 75 (+3) to end tied for 37th at 151 (+7).

The Irish get their third and final round underway at 9:40 a.m. (CT) on Monday off of the first tee, playing alongside the Razorbacks and the 49ers. Be sure to check back with for a recap of the Irish in their final round.

Gopher Invitational - Spring Hill Golf Club - Par 72, 7,020 yards
Top-Five Teams (After 36 holes):1. NOTRE DAME 577 +12. Arkansas 581 +53. Charlotte 587 +114. SMU 588 +125. Iowa 589 +13
Top-Five Individuals (After 36 holes):1. Paul McNamara III (ND) 139 -52. Barrett Kelpin (Iowa) 140 -4T3. Sebastian Cappelen (Arkansas) 143 -1T3. Rodolfo Cazaubon (North Texas) 143 -1T3. Marc Sambol (SMU) 143 -1
Notre Dame Standings (After 36 holes):1. Paul McNamara III 139 -5T7. Niall Platt 145 +1T13. Max Scodro 147 +3T20. Tom Usher 148 +4T37. Chris Walker 151 +7