April 3, 2015
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Playing against top national fields has become almost second nature to the University of Notre Dame men’s golf team this season. In another top 50 laden draw at the Mason Rudolph Championship, it was the Irish who made their mark in the first round on Friday at the Vanderbilt Legends Club South Course.
Notre Dame utilized standout rounds from sophomore Matthew Rushton and senior Tyler Wingo to tie for seventh place after day one of the tournament, carding a team score of 291 (+7). The Irish enter round two just four strokes from clawing into the top five teams on the leaderboard.
“Just a great job by both Matt and Tyler in getting us out of the blocks with a solid start,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “The wind was gusting to over 30 mph, and was pretty steady at 15-20, so anything under par was a strong effort.”
Starting his round at the 10th hole, Rushton began by rolling in a birdie at the par-3 11th hole to move to one-under-par. A second birdie at the par-5 14th offset one bogey on the back nine, sending the Cape Town, South Africa native out in one-under 35. Back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes moved Rushton to -3 on his day. An inward bogey dropped Rushton back to a two-under-par 69 that tied for fourth place overall in the field.
Wingo bookended eight pars on the back side with an eagle three at the par-5, 517-yard 14th hole as part of an outward score of two-under 34. The Notre Dame senior battled back from consecutive bogeys on the front nine to roll in a birdie at the par-4 eighth hole, claiming a share of 11th place with a first round 70 (-1). Wingo’s 14 overall pars were the second-most in the field during the opening 18.
“We had a couple players get off to a rough start, which I don’t anticipate tomorrow,” Kubinski said. “Just some tough holes early, starting on 10-13, but we should have a pretty good feel for the course now.”
Sophomore Blake Barens logged two birdies during his first round, ultimately sharing 39th place at three-over-par 74. Freshman Thomas Steve also notched a pair of birdies during his Friday 78 (tied for 70th), while senior David Lowe rounded out the Notre Dame lineup with a day one 83 (tied for 79th).
No. 6 Vanderbilt opened a three-shot overnight lead after the hosts spun a team four-under-par 280 on Friday. No. 15 Georgia Tech and No. 21 Kennesaw State tied for second place at 283 (-1), while No. 39 Georgia Southern fired a one-over 285. No. 27 Alabama rounded out the top five teams at 287.
“With a good one tomorrow, especially more from our four and five guys, we can move up and make Easter Sunday a lot of fun,” Kubinski said.
The second round of the Mason Rudolph Championship is scheduled to begin with tee times off the first and 10th tees on Saturday at 8 a.m. (CT) at the Vanderbilt Legends Club South Course. The Notre Dame starting lineup will be off the first tee in the 8:00-8:36 wave. Live results will be available via GolfStat.com.