Sept. 22, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s men’s golf teams dueled to the end and ultimately finished as the co-champions of the 2015 Fighting Irish Golf Classic on Monday afternoon at the Warren Golf Course.
While Notre Dame came out firing on the front nine, at one point getting to minus-six on the team leaderboard, Saint Mary’s (California) responded on the back nine, creating a memorable finish down the stretch for both teams.
“I was really pleased today with how we played,” Irish Head Coach Jim Kubinski said. “This group of guys had not been in the position of sleeping on a lead – and all that that entails – for a while, so to watch them come out with some great stuff early on made me proud.”
The Irish and Gaels each carded two-under-par 850’s for the three-round tournament, marking the second lowest team scores in tournament history. Saint Mary’s is now a two-time tournament champion after sharing the title with Houston in 2011, while Notre Dame also won for a second time after taking the 2009 crown.
Irish junior Blake Barens enjoyed a solid front nine, knocking in a birdie at the par 3 ninth hole to make the turn in an even par 35. Barens birdied the 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th holes as part of a back nine 34, tying for second place overall at three-under-par 210 (71-70-69).
“It is a big confidence booster for our team to get the co-champion finish,” Barens said after the round. “We struggled a little bit in our first two events so it was nice to get back and win on our home golf course. Both teams played great, congratulations to Saint Mary’s as well. But it was a big win for us as we move forward.”
As Notre Dame’s top finisher, Barens led the field with 16 birdies during the tournament, including five in the third round.
Irish freshman Miguel Delgado capped off a stellar FIGC debut with his second straight under par round on Tuesday. Delgado rolled in back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to open with a front nine 33 (-2). After giving a shot back at the 418-yard 15th, he picked up a birdie at the 17th hole to shoot a final round two-under-par 69, placing sixth outright at 211 (72-70-69).
Fellow freshman Ben Albin put together the best Notre Dame round of the day, carding seven birdies during his final 18 holes. Consecutive birdies at numbers one and two, and five and six, had the Irish newcomer four-under after his first six holes of the final round. A double bogey at the ninth and a subsequent bogey at the 10th knocked Albin off the pace, but birdies at the 13th, 14th and 17th holes equaled the low round of the day. Albin’s third round 67 left him in a tie for seventh (73-72-67=212).
“To see two young guys respond in the final round the way Ben and Miguel did with how difficult the golf course was setup today was impressive,” Kubinski added.
Junior Matthew Rushton went out in 35, but fell back on the back nine to card a five-over-par 76. Rushton finished in a tie for 22nd place at 217 (72-69-76).
Senior Cory Sciupider, who notched a birdie at the 10th hole in his final round, finished the day with an 82 to tie for 64th (76-76-82=234).
On the crowded leaderboard that saw 18 players open the final round within four shots of the lead, Jonathan De Los Reyes of Saint Mary’s emerged to earn medalist honors at six-under-par (207), the second-lowest 54-hole total in tournament history. He shot a final round 67 (-4) to win by three strokes.
Competing as individuals, Thomas Steve tied for 43rd (76-72-76=224), Jens Verhey tied for 47th (77-73-76=226), Kevin Conners tied for 56th (77-74-78=229), while Zach Toste (78-82-76=236) and Liam Cox (76-79-81=236) tied for 66th.
Notre Dame is back in action on Oct. 3-4 at the Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C. The two-day event will take place at North Carolina’s Finley Golf Course.
“I think [the co-championship] will give us some momentum going forward because when you are putting in all the work and you don’t get all the results you are necessarily looking for that can be tough on a team,” Kubinski added. “But now you can say we’ve had the leadership we have needed and here are the fruits of that labor.”
– by Dan Colleran, Athletics Communications Associate Director