March 4, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a two week break since opening the spring season, the Fighting Irish men’s golf team is set to play in two tournaments over the University of Notre Dame’s spring break. The Irish are slated to play at the Border Olympics in Laredo, Texas and in the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore.
Action begins on Friday, March 5 when the Irish tee it up for the first 36 holes of the Border Olympics, which will be played at the Laredo Country Club – a par 72 track that stands at 7,125 yards in length. Notre Dame will be appearing at the University of Houston hosted event for the fourth time in the past five seasons and the fifth time under the guidance of Irish head coach Jim Kubinski.
“We always enjoy our trip to Laredo,” said Kubinski. “We’ve had pretty decent success there in recent years, having grabbed the halfway lead three years ago and earning a top-five finish last year. The event is one of the oldest in college golf and enjoys great support from the members and local community and it’s also a fun golf course with a great mix of holes.
Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif./Los Altos) helped lead Notre Dame to its fifth place finish last year by shooting a five-over par 221, which placed him in a tie for 11th. He closed the tournament with back-to-back even-par outings to record the best finish of his sophomore season. Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) was part of a group that tied for 26th place at eight-over par 224. Fortner shot rounds of 75-72-77.
If the Irish are to recapture their momentum from last season’s Border Olympics, they will have to overcome a 16-team field that, in addition to Notre Dame and Houston, includes Air Force, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Lamar, New Mexico State, North Texas, Oklahoma, Rice, Texas State, UT Arlington, UTEP, UTSA and Washington State. In terms of current Golfstat rankings (released on 3/3/10), the field is led by 31st-ranked Arkansas and 35th-ranked Rice.
Coach Kubinski’s lineups for the two spring events will be comprised from a group of six golfers that includes upperclassmen Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford), Fortner and Chen as well as sophomores Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (AZ)), Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and Tom Usher (Bradford, England/Guiseley School). Once Kubinski sets his lineup, the remaining Irish player will participate in the Border Olympics as an individual entrant.
“This is a very talented group,” said Kubinski. “A little momentum will go a long way for these guys. We’ve proven we can win at this level so now we’re working to be more consistent with each event.”
Part of building that momentum will be playing in two high profile tournaments that include six rounds of competitive golf in an eight-day span, something they have not done since the fall portion of their season. With the busy slate, the Irish will be able to hone their strategy and eliminate some of the mistakes that hurt them at the Battle at the Beach.
“The teams that win college tournaments typically limit their hiccups to bogeys,” analyzed Kubinski. “We’ve counted far too many double and triple bogeys to be a consistent winner this season but when we start realizing a bogey doesn’t hurt a whole lot and accept that making a bogey when we’re on the defensive is acceptable, our team scores will improve. As those scores improve, so will our confidence.”
A key component of developing that understanding will be recording a strong finish at the Border Olympics and moving on to the Bandon Dunes Championship. With the spring break, the Irish will be afforded the chance to get some extra practice rounds in Bandon, Ore. at the famed Bandon Trails and Bandon Dunes courses on Monday and Tuesday before a Wednesday practice round on the Pacific Dunes course, where the Bandon Dunes Championship will be contested. The Pacific Dunes course is rated as America’s 14th-best course by GolfDigest, while the Bandon Dunes course is ranked 33rd. According to Golf Magazine, Pacific Dunes checks in at No. 10 nationally (and 16th worldwide), while Bandon Dunes also ranks 33rd.
Play at the Bandon Dunes Championship will begin with rounds one and two taking place on Thursday, March 11 and will conclude with the final round of play on Friday, March 12. The two-day event will be hosted by Gonzaga University. The field at Bandon Dunes will also include Boise State, British Columbia University, Idaho, Utah Valley State and Weber State.
Both the Border Olympics and the Bandon Dunes Championship will feature live scoring through www.golfstat.com, while recaps of Notre Dame’s performances will be posted at und.com following each day of play.