May 1, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. – Carding its third straight under-par round of the tournament (282, -6), the University of Notre Dame men’s golf team concluded its goal of winning back-to-back BIG EAST Championships Tuesday at the Reunion Resort Watson Course.
“I’m just thrilled to see our guys play the kind of golf we’ve anticipated for so long,” said Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. “We started this roll a couple weeks ago and kept getting better. The timing is perfect. We had our peaks and valleys but when I look at these five players over the two-year stretch, I’m proud of them. There were times when they were frustrated and disappointed but they never, ever quit. They always believed they could do great things. Today was a great example of a team that kept looking forward. They didn’t worry about a bad shot or missed putt. They had a great attitude, which can lead to good scores.”
Overall, the Irish finished the tournament 12-under par (852) to pull away for a 16-shot victory over second place Louisville (868, +4). The margin of victory is the largest in a BIG EAST Championship since ’02, when Virginia Tech won by 17 shots at the Warren Golf Course. Villanova pulled into third place at 870 (+6) after carding the only other under-par round of the day with a 285 (-3). St. John’s fell from third to fourth with a final score of 876 (+12) while Georgetown closed out the top five at 883 (+19).
It is Notre Dame’s eighth BIG EAST crown since joining the conference and is the first time the Irish have repeated as champions since winning three straight from ’04-`06.
In addition to winning their second-straight BIG EAST title, this marked the first time in 17 years of the Irish playing in the tournament that the team has broken par in each of the three rounds and the total score of 852 ranks as the second lowest stroke score for Notre Dame at a BIG EAST Championship behind only the `06 mark of 842 (-22). The team’s six-under par final round also goes into the books as the fourth lowest score to-par for the Irish in a single round at a BIG EAST Championship.
Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) also made history for the Irish, becoming the first Notre Dame golfer to earn two BIG EAST Championship medalist honors and is the first BIG EAST golfer to accomplish the feat in consecutive years since 1984, when St. John’s’ Pat Fogarty won three consecutive individual titles. After losing medalist honors on the first playoff hole in ’10, Scodro claimed the `11 championship with a 212 (-1) before holding on this year for a one-shot victory with a 210 (-6).
“Max has had as big of an impact on Notre Dame golf as anyone,” remarked Kubinski. “He never finished outside of the top seven at the BIG EASTs, won back-to-back titles now and lost a playoff for the title as a sophomore. He has had a remarkable season. He played beautifully from tee to green the whole way here. He’s a deserving champion.”
The senior co-captain entered the final day with a two shot lead on the field after posting a first round 69 (-3) and second round 68 (-4). After opening his final round with 16 consecutive pars, Scodro moved to one under on the day with a birdie on the par-5, 17th but his first double bogey of the tournament finished his round at 73 (+1). It proved to be enough, however, as he held on for the one shot victory over Louisville’s Justin Dorward.
Scodro’s tournament score of 210 goes into the Irish record books tied as the lowest 54-hole stroke mark in a BIG EAST Championship for an Irish golfer (Doug Fortner, ’09), while his second round four under ties as the fourth lowest score to-par for a Notre Dame golfer in a BIG EAST Championship.
Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) and Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif.), meanwhile, both joined Scodro on that list Tuesday, carding matching scores of 68 (-4). Walker opened his final round with a 34 (-2) on the front nine that saw him post three birdies and one bogey before playing bogey-free golf on the back nine and recording back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. Overall, Walker ended in a share of third at 212 (-4) and was one of just three golfers in the field to finish even par or better in each of the three rounds.
Platt, who entered the day tied for 23rd at five over, moved up 13 spots Tuesday into a tie for 10th with a 54-hole count of 217 (+1). The sophomore posted only one bogey on the round and carded five birdies to go along with 12 pars. Platt took full advantage of the par fives during the final round, recording a birdie on each of the four holes.
“I can’t say enough about Chris and Niall today,” stated Kubinski. “Posting a 68 is one heck of a score anytime but in a final round and in the wind that was out there today, it’s fantastic.”
Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) earned the third top-five finish of the tournament for the Irish, finishing alone in fifth with a 213 (-3). The junior fell to three over par after his first 11 holes on the final day, but used back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th to climb back to one over (73) for the round and secure the second top-five result of his Irish career.
Tom Usher (Baildon, England) posted his best round of the tournament on the final day, carding a 73 (+1). The senior, who missed last year’s tournament due to injury, recorded four birdies, five bogeys and nine pars on Tuesday and finished in a tie for 35th overall at 226 (+10).
“I’m also so happy for Tom,” expressed Kubinski. “He was there two years ago in that heartbreaking one shot playoff loss and then missed last year due to injury. To see him hoist the team trophy made my year.”
With the victory, Notre Dame earns the BIG EAST Conference automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Championship. The selection show for the 2012 NCAA Championship takes place May 7 at 9 p.m. (ET) and can be viewed via NCAA.com.
Top Five Teams (final):1. NOTRE DAME 852 -122. Louisville 868 +43. Villanova 870 +64. St. John's 876 +125. Georgetown 883 +19
Top Five Individuals (final):1. Max Scodro, ND 210 -62. Justin Dorward, UL 211 -5T3. Chris Walker, ND 212 -4T3. Michael Kania, VU 212 -45. Paul McNamara III, ND213 -3
Notre Dame Results (final):1. NOTRE DAME 852 -121. Max Scodro 210 -6T3. Chris Walker 212 -45. Paul McNamara III 213 -3T10. Niall Platt 217 +1T35. Tom Usher 226 +10