Matt Rushton earned a share of sixth place in his first career collegiate start at last season's Gopher Invitational

Irish Return To Gopher Invitational This Weekend

Sept. 6, 2014

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2014 Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota, Sept. 7-8, Windsong Farm Golf Club, Independence, Minn.

Windsong Farm Golf Club was designed by 1996 Open Championship winner Tom Lehman and accomplished architect John Fought. The par-71, 7,152-yard track hosted the 2010 Big Ten Championships, and welcomes the Gopher Invitational for the second straight year after the tournament was previous held at the Spring Hill Golf Club (Wayzata, Minn.).

“It’s great to kick off our travel season in one of the most beautiful golf settings you’ll find. Windsong Farm outside Minneapolis is not only a picturesque setting to compete in but a great test of golf. It’ll play tougher this year as the native grass areas off the fairways have grown in and our very difficult to play from. There will be a premium on both driving the ball well and positioning the ball well on the greens.”

The 54-hole stroke play tournament begins with an initial wave of tee times off both the front and back nine Sunday at 7:30 a.m. (ET). Players will complete two 18-hole rounds on day one before finishing with a final 18 holes on Monday.

Along with Notre Dame, a total of 14 other teams will compete at the Gopher Invitational, with host Minnesota being the only team to field a second lineup under the five-count-four scoring format. Joining Minnesota and Notre Dame in the tournament is Baylor, California, Central Arkansas, Charlotte, Kent State, Michigan State, Nebraska, New Mexico, San Francisco, St. John’s (Minn.), UAB and VCU.

The Notre Dame starting five are senior Patrick Grahek, junior Cory Sciupider, sophomore Matt Rushton, sophomore Blake Barens and freshman Thomas Steve.

Results will be posted on the UND Athletic Department Web site ( at the conclusion of each round. Live results will be available through

Notre Dame travels to The Windon Memorial, hosted by Northwestern University, on Sept. 21-22 at the Evanston Golf Club in Chicago, Ill.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a triumphant opening tournament at its own kickoff challenge, claiming a team victory by 19 strokes at its own home event, the University of Notre Dame men’s golf team hits the road for the first time in 2014-15, returning to the Minnesota Gopher Invitational this weekend. First round tee times are scheduled to begin on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn., with second round play to follow at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Live tournament results will be posted regularly to the event page at

The Irish are making their seventh appearance all-time at the Gopher Invitational, posting third place finishes at the tournament in both 2007 and 2011 when it was contested at the Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minn. Notre Dame placed seventh overall at the 2013 Gopher Invitational (289-292-289-870) in the first season that the event was contested at the Windsong Farm Golf Club.

“We picked up some momentum last week at home, with scores as good as any team has posted over the years on our Warren, so the goal is to bring the same approach and attitude this week,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “Opponents vary from week to week but good play, through a proper approach, holds up.”

Current sophomore Matt Rushton opened his collegiate career with a flash during last year’s Gopher Invitational, carding a four-under-par 67 in his opening competitive 18 holes played at Notre Dame. Rushton ultimately finished four strokes off the pace, closing with a one-under 70 to tie for sixth place at 210 (67-73-70, -3) with former Irish standout Niall Platt. Rushton got off to another fast start to a season during last weekend’s Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge, finishing in third place after rounds of 68-70 (138, -4) at the Warren Golf Course.

Junior Cory Sciupider and sophomore Blake Barens return to the Notre Dame starting five from the 2013 Gopher Invitational, which saw Sciupider place solo 43rd (225, +12) following a final round 77. Barens carded a third round 76 to finish in a tie for 57th place at 234. Sciupider closed with a brilliant five-under 66 during the final round of the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge to place fourth (75-66-141, -1), while Barens shared 10th place (73-75-148, +6).

Senior Patrick Grahek is making his first start at the Gopher Invitational this weekend coming off the best finish of his collegiate career at the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge. Grahek posted rounds of four-under 67 and two-under 69 to tie for medalist honors at 136 (-6) in the fall debut tournament for the Irish. His previous career-best result was a tie for seventh place at both the Talis Park Challenge and the Oak Hill Intercollegiate during the 2014 spring season.

Freshman Thomas Steve will make his second career start after debuting for the Irish during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge. Steve carded rounds of 73-76 to tie for 11th place (73-76-149, +7).

“We’re going with our same five from the opener,” Kubinski said. “Matt, Cory and Blake have all played here at Windsong. Their experience should help. Patrick will be playing in the No. 1 spot and is really playing well to start out the season. Thomas will make his road debut. I love how our guys have embraced the rookie and are offering helpful thoughts and tips, I like our vibe in that way.

“This is my seventh trip up for this tournament, the second year at Windsong Farm, and this week’s field is another good one,” Kubinski added. “I try not to predict scores but think Par is a strong effort out here.”