Sept. 12, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 2010-11 Notre Dame men’s golf team will kick off its season this week when the team takes the tee on Mon.-Tues., Sept. 13-14 at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. as part of the College of Charleston Invitational. The two-day tournament, which is hosted by the College of Charleston, will feature two rounds on the opening day with the closing round played on Tuesday.
This will mark the first time the Irish have played in a tournament at the Ocean Course, which sets up as a par-72, 7,356-yard course. The Ocean Course was ranked No. 25 in Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest U.S. Golf Courses List and No. 4 on its Best Public Course List. With beautiful Atlantic coastline views from each hole, the course has played host to the 2007 Senior PGA and will host the 2012 PGA Championships.
The opening tournament will feature a six-count-four format, as each team will field a six-man rotation with the best four scores counting to the team total. The Irish will field a relatively young group of golfers in their initial rotation, which will be led by junior Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (AZ)) who has played in a team-leading 20 tournaments.
“Our rotation always evolves through the course of the year, as we have a very competitive group,” Irish head coach Jim Kubinski states. “Typically, we’ll have three or four `regulars’ in our five-man lineup but good competition for the other spot or two. That will most likely be true again this season.
“The lineup headed to Kiawah Island is Max Scodro, Tom Usher, Chris Walker, Paul McNamara III, Niall Platt and Jeff Chen – playing in that order,” Kubinski remarks. “It’s a slightly different format as we’re playing six players rather than five, which is great for an opening event.”
Scodro returns for his third year with the Irish as the active leader in stroke average with an average of 74.36. Last season, 26 of the 27 rounds played in team format by Scodro were counted to the four-ball score (96.3%), which led all Irish golfers. He also has two co-medalist honors to his name coming at the ’08-09 UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate and last season earning a bid to a four-way playoff at the BIG EAST Championship.
Two other juniors – Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and Tom Usher (Bradford, England/Guiseley School) – will provide significant depth to the Irish rotation after announcing their arrivals last season. The duo combined to play in 13 tournaments last year as a part of the team lineup, with Usher earning his first co-medalist nod, joining Scodro in the four-way playoff at the BIG EAST Championships.
Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif./Los Altos) is the lone senior to play in this week’s lineup. Last season Chen played in only four tournaments as part of the Irish rotation, but his senior experience will be leaned upon with a relatively young group around him. He currently holds a career-stroke average of 74.68, which stands second to Scodro amongst active Irish golfers.
Sophomore Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Chadwick School) will get his first taste of team action at the Invite, after competing in two events during his freshman year as an individual. After carding a 77.50 average last season, McNamara showed marked improvement during the practice sessions and will try and establish himself as a usual on the team lineup.
The Irish squad will be rounded out by freshman Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif./Laguna Blanca School). The talented rookie will get a chance to show what he can do at the collegiate level after going undefeated in his first three years of league play and capturing three consecutive league MVP honors during his high school career.
“I’m pleased with what we’ve exhibited in our practice sessions,” Kubinski says. “In just the first two weeks of prep for Kiawah, I’ve seen improvement across the board. Tom led our overall qualifying tournaments with consistently strong scoring. He has worked hard the last several months, getting stronger and improving his technique. I’m excited about what he can do this season.”
“Paul and Niall, one of our freshman, each won a 54-hole qualifier, earning a spot,” Kubinski continues. “Paul, like Tom, has worked very, very hard over the summer and gained about 20-25 yards off the tee, a huge difference from last season. Niall closed out his qualifier with consecutive rounds of 69 and looked very sharp.
“Both Max and Chris are capable of break out years nationally, with continued hard work and focus. The lone senior this week will be Jeff Chen. Jeff has looked very solid in qualifying. He’s such a consistent player, managing his game very, very well.”
Despite only featuring three seniors on the roster and one in the tournament rotation, the Irish have plenty of reason for optimism with several talented underclassmen ready to battle for a spot on the five man lineup.
FIELD: The College of Charleston Invitational will feature a 12-team field competing from the Ocean Course. The teams participating include (Golfweek rankings in parentheses): College of Charleston, Davidson, Western Carolina, North Carolina State (42), Vanderbilt, Coastal Carolina, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s (Calif.), Texas State, UAB, Maryland and Mercer.
“The field at Kiawah will provide a very good test, especially out of the gate,” Kubinski says. “The host team is always tough. Then, we’ll also face strong NCAA contenders in Vanderbilt, Coastal Carolina and N.C. State. All the teams competing are capable though. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
FORMAT: Each team’s lineup will be comprised of six golfers with the lowest four scores for each round counting towards the overall team socre. The tournament will consist of 54 holes of golf, with rounds one and two being played consecutively on Monday, September 13 and the final round of play taking place on Tuesday. Tournament action will begin both days at 8:30 a.m. with a shotgun start taking place each round.
RESULTS: Live hole-by-hole scoring of the College of Charleston Invite will be available through Golfstat, accessible at http://www.golfstatresults.com. Daily recaps of the Irish will be posted on und.com.
NEXT UP: The Irish will return home to host the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic in two weeks (Mon.-Tues., Sept. 27-28) from the Warren Golf Course. Last season the Irish topped the team podium, while Josh Sandman made it a clean sweep winning medalist honors.