Junior Patrick Grahek posted the fourth-best Notre Dame scoring average (74.89) during the fall season

Irish Begin Spring Slate At San Diego Classic Monday

March 9, 2014

The Lamkin San Diego Classic, hosted by the University of San Diego and San Diego State University, March 10-11, San Diego Country Club, San Diego, Calif.


The San Diego Country Club was officially opened at its current location in 1921. The par 72, 7,033 yard William Watson design has previously hosted the San Diego Open, the 1964 U.S. Women’s Open, the 1993 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, and U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open sectional qualifying.

San Diego State will look to defend the Lamkin San Diego Classic tournament title after firing an even-par score of 864 at last season’s event.


The 54-hole stroke play tournament will be contested over two days, and begins with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. (PT) on Monday. The second round is scheduled to start immediately following the conclusion of round one, at approximately 12:45 p.m. The third and final round will get under way Tuesday, with tee times off the first and 10th holes beginning at 7:30 a.m.


A total of 13 teams will tee it up this week at the San Diego Classic, including nine teams that reside on the West Coast. Joining Notre Dame and hosts San Diego and San Diego State are Cal State San Marcos, Michigan, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Saint Joseph’s, Seattle, Southern California, UC Irvine, Utah and Wake Forest.


Representing Notre Dame in the starting five will be senior tri-captain Niall Platt, junior Tyler Wingo, junior Patrick Grahek, freshman Matt Rushton and freshman Blake Barens.


Results will be posted on the UND Athletic Department Web site (www.UND.com) at the conclusion of each round. Live stats will be available at GolfStat.com.


Notre Dame will close its Spring Break tournament schedule at the Talis Park Challenge at the Talis Park Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

– The University of Notre Dame men’s golf team returns from a near five-month absence from competition this week, opening its 2014 season at the Lamkin San Diego Classic in San Diego, Calif. The two-day tournament will be held on Monday and Tuesday at the San Diego Country Club.

For the Irish, the team’s first official tournament rounds since October will certainly break the monotony of the winter months. Thankfully for Notre Dame, the program’s state-of-the-art Rolfs Family All-Season Varsity Golf Facility paid dividends during the harsh conditions that have impacted the South Bend area.

“I think the Rolfs facility, this season in particular, has been a tremendous factor in allowing the guys to continue their development,” Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said. “We have seen some nice signs in a variety of areas, and the continued implementation of our simulator this year, thanks in part to Joe Mendelson and those in the Notre Dame community who supported that, has made a big difference.

“Not only in the obvious, when you have a simulator you can play different holes and picture some shots with that imagery going, there is also a range setting where you can check your short iron distances, the height, the ball speed,” he said. “All part of the TrackMan Golf technology going on. Being able to play and also analyze, getting some real feedback from the shots you are hitting, is crucial at this time of the year, especially when you have the time to make some changes with no tournaments from October to March, that’s been invaluable.”

Just because Notre Dame has been unable to physically play a round at the Warren Golf Course yet in 2014 does not mean practice sessions at the Rolfs facility have been without competition. The golf simulator, according to Kubinski, has fostered positive challenges and hurdles to team members throughout winter training.

“It has also brought a competitive aspect to the team, the boys want to know who’s hitting it closer to the pin on certain things we set up, who drives it closer to the line,” he said. “Having them competing, itching to compete and being ready for the spring season, has been a real bonus. The chipping and putting we are able to do indoors, the technique is there, it’s now about getting that feel and getting going.”

Being away from the tournament grind has also given ample time for mental preparation, and a thorough study of course management, to Notre Dame players that golfers in warmer climates who play straight through the winter may not always have. By being removed from a regular on-course setting, the Irish coaching staff has been able to utilize the down time to share wisdom beyond executing a golf shot that Kubinski feels will benefit the team this spring.

“We’ve put together some game plans, and we have talked with the players about making sure those plans are in place before we arrive at the tournament site,” Kubinski said. “If you’ve played there before, even putting some different shots and clubs in your mind beforehand.”

Notre Dame also escaped the wintry conditions during the middle of February to compete in its annual alumni match, which took place this year at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Getting back onto the course collectively for the first time since closing the 2013 fall schedule was the next step in spring preparation.

“One of the things we were able to do within the last few weeks was take part in our alumni match weekend, and we saw some mistakes with guys not being out there in a while, but we saw some great golf as well,” Kubinski said. “Really good strides were made by the majority of our team, and we saw competitive scores. Niall (Platt) won outright, which is no surprise from the fall and past seasons, but a lot of guys were competitive and chasing. I thought it was a great week, and it was the first chance to get out there with that opportunity to compete.”

Platt, one of the senior tri-captains on this season’s Notre Dame team, posted the best Irish scoring average in the fall at 72.47, and contributed four top 25 finishes. The Santa Barbara, Calif. native, again figures to be one of the main keys to the team’s success this spring.

“Niall is so consistent in his approach, and we talk about trying to build that with the younger guys to form that tournament approach, but Niall has been doing that for a long time,” Kubinski said. “He played a heck of a fall season to get into the top 75 in the national rankings at one time, and that’s a significant thing itself. He really only had one tough round all season when we finished up at Kiawah Island, so he played so well throughout, and looked great during the alumni weekend in West Palm Beach.”

Platt setting an example for younger players, both on and off the course, has been an added role that Kubinski said he has developed during his senior campaign. Giving his teammates a first-person road map of sorts to achieve goals on the golf course.

“Niall is super motivated, and I have been very proud of the leadership role he has taken on, especially with the younger guys,” Kubinski said. “Offering an example of being ready to play, what it takes, and he has even picked up more practice hours this year. I’m so happy about the work he’s doing, but more so about the work he’s putting into it. I think Niall is going to have a very sound, solid spring, and keep getting that tournament experience under his belt.”

A number of those younger players made significant strides during the fall tournament schedule, notably juniors Patrick Grahek and Tyler Wingo. Grahek posted the fourth-best Notre Dame scoring average of the first half (74.89) in his three tournament appearances, while Wingo’s autumn was highlighted by a first round four-under 68 on Kiawah Island in the fall finale.

Kubinski said that each player, based on their fall results and winter preparation, are primed for a breakout performance this week in San Diego.

“They seem more motivated than ever before, they are both great students, not making any sacrifices in the classroom, and they’ve used that extra time that you might spend socially to be over here working than at any point in their three years,” Kubinski said. “I think it will lead to great things in their golf games. Those two juniors have the opportunity to play a great spring that will lead into their senior years.

“We have a team where I think five or six guys, and I don’t mean in a professional sense, but in a collegiate sense are just scratching the surface,” he said. “Not finished products, but that’s exciting for us as coaches to embark on a full spring season with young players who are going to gain experience. It’s an exciting time, but Tyler and Patrick are two guys that we are really excited to see what they can do.”

Rounding out the Notre Dame lineup at the San Diego Classic will be freshmen Matt Rushton and Blake Barens, who each saw significant tournament action during the fall. Rushton made a splash in his first collegiate start last September at the Gopher Classic in Independence, Minn., tying for sixth place with a three-round score of three-under-par 210 (67-73-70). Barens made four tournament appearances of his own, including three event starts, during his first fall collegiate season.

The freshmen duo, along with classmate Liam Cox and sophomore Cory Sciupider, make up a talented crux of young talent on the Irish roster that has already seen significant competitive experience. Sciupider was the top Notre Dame finisher (third place) at the 2013 BIG EAST Championship, and was one of two Notre Dame players to win an event last season during his freshman campaign with a victory at the 2013 C&F Bank Intercollegiate.

The continued development of those players on the rise is an exciting proposition to Kubinski and Irish assistant coach Scott Gump.

“It would be one thing to offer my opinion on it, but it means more to go back to the records and scoring averages our players have posted over the last 10 seasons,” Kubinski said. “The guys with the opportunity to play as freshmen and sophomores all were much, much better by the time they graduated, so these players have that opportunity in front of them. They have the chance to be good, how good is difficult to say, but they will keep improving.

“They all had nice finishes in the fall, Matt with a top 10 in Minnesota and Blake and Liam with some nice rounds,” he said. “Cory, for a year and half now, has posted our best rounds when he gets going with a handful of 66s and 67s. I see the possibility that the three freshmen and Cory may all break into the lineup together this spring, and the more they are able to do that faster their progression will be.”

Notre Dame is ready to make its long awaited return to the course this weekend, its first official spring tournament as an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) affiliate. Along with logging a good showing, Kubinski said there is one standing Irish rivalry that the team would like to win the bragging rights for in San Diego.

“We’d like to beat USC. That would be first a foremost,” Kubinski said. “There is a great rivalry between us and the USC Trojans, so that will be one of our goals. No tournament is really the be all, end all during the season. More like a series of battles, if you want to use that analogy, which lead to the conference championship tournament at the end of the season. The plan is to put together solid rounds to give us the chance to be there during the final round on Tuesday, but more importantly follow the progression of these players. That is what is most exciting, they have had this time, the fall season and several months to work on their games, and that’s exciting in and of itself.”


— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant