Sept. 28, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Golf is a game for those with short memories, for those players and teams who can quickly put their struggles behind them.
Less than a week after a tough final round dropped the University of Notre Dame men’s golf team down the ladder at Northwestern’s Windon Memorial Classic, the Fighting Irish showed their resilience, carding a one-over par 285 to take a one-stroke lead after Sunday’s first round of the ninth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course (par 71/7,023 yards).
The Fighting Irish are one shot ahead of Long Beach State, three clear of two-time tournament champion Michigan State and four better than Loyola (Md.) in the eight-team event. Notre Dame trimmed 11 strokes off their final-round score at Northwestern, while posting a team score of better than 290 for the fifth time in nine rounds this season.
“We put together a very solid effort today,” Fighting Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said. “To shoot a 285 on our Warren, with the greens running around 11 (on the Stimpmeter), is always a competitive score.”
Notre Dame has four golfers among the top 10 in the 50-player field after Sunday’s opening round, led by junior Cory Sciupider (Etowah, N.C./Christ School), who is playing this week as an individual (unattached) competitor and is tied for second place at four-under par 67, one shot off his career-low round set in the season-opening Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 30, also at the Warren Golf Course.
Ball State’s McCormick Clouser has the overnight lead at five-under par 66, matching the second-lowest single-round score in tournament history, a mark most recently set by Houston’s Kyle Pilgrim in last year’s third round. Michigan State’s Ryan Brehm set the tournament record by shooting 64 in the second round of the 2007 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic.
Much like his teammates, Sciupider displayed his own resilience, erasing the memory of a disappointing 31-over par 244 in his last outing on Sept. 7-8 at the Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minnesota. On Sunday, Sciupider was sensational, carding eight birdies, including six in a nine-hole stretch midway through his round to log the best 18-hole score posted by a Notre Dame golfer at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic since the tournament debuted in 2006.
“Cory played a fantastic round today,” Kubinski said. “Any time you make eight birdies on our Warren, you’re golfing your ball. He had two hiccups but showed great composure in putting those behind him and just playing the shots coming in. It was a great bounce-back (effort) from Minnesota for him after a lot of work these last three weeks.”
Sophomore Matthew Rushton (Cape Town, South Africa/Heritage (S.C.) Academy) leads the five Notre Dame players in the team lineup, placing fifth with a two-under par 69 on Sunday. Another of the Fighting Irish individual competitors, freshman Jens Verhey (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue Catholic), is tied for sixth place at one-under par 70, while three others in Notre Dame’s team lineup are among the top 20 in the field — freshman Thomas Steve (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Upper St. Clair) is tied for ninth place at even-par 71, senior Patrick Grahek (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) is in a 15th-place tie at one-over par 72 and senior Tyler Wingo (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI Catholic) is tied for 18th place at two-over par 73.
“Matthew just keeps building on the lessons he’s learning,” Kubinski said. “He shows great tenacity, and while not everything went his way early on, he stayed patient and battled.
“I walked with Thomas today and am excited about his approach,” Kubinski added. “No player hits all their lines in a day, but Thomas always has a good approach, hits his spots more often than not, and performs as well as any player around the greens.
“Our two seniors, Patrick and Tyler, also posted solid scores,” Kubinski concluded. “They have grown a great deal these last couple of seasons and they’re now so mature in their attitude and approach. Both are capable of coming home with strong scores, too.”
Sophomore Blake Barens (Villa Park, Calif./Orange Lutheran) is tied for 24th place at four-over par 75, followed by classmate Liam Cox (Staines, United Kingdom/Hampton School) in a 30th-place tie at five-over par 76. Senior David Lowe (Scottsdale, Ariz./Brophy Prep) shares 38th place at seven-over par 78, while junior Zach Toste (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Archbishop Edward McCarthy) rounds out the Notre Dame contingent in a 46th-place tie at 10-over par 81. Of those four players, only Cox is playing as part of the Fighting Irish team lineup this week.
Notre Dame will take its one-shot lead into Monday’s second round of the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, which will be contested north of the state line at Lost Dunes Golf Club (par 71/6,905 yards) in Bridgeman, Michigan, with live online scoring provided by Golfstat (www.golfstat.com). It marks the first time in the tournament’s nine-year history that Lost Dunes, which has served as one of Notre Dame’s regular practice sites, will play host to a portion of the actual tournament competition.
“There’s a long way to go, and uniquely, another golf course in play tomorrow,” Kubinski said. “We’re familiar with Lost Dunes. We just need to keep grinding away with a great attitude and approach. It sounds clichÃƒÆ’Â©d, but it’s the way to beat people. We’re playing enough good stretches to expect good things out there.”
For more information on the Notre Dame men’s golf program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish men’s golf Twitter page (@NDMensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic — Round 1
Sept. 28, 2014
Warren Golf Course (par 71/7,023 yards)
Notre Dame, Ind.
TEAM SCORES (18-hole totals): 1. NOTRE DAME 285; 2. Long Beach State 286; 3. Michigan State 288; 4. Loyola (Md.) 289; 5. Ball State 293; 6. Lamar 294; 7. Davidson 300; 8. Florida Gulf Coast 303.
TOP EIGHT INDIVIDUALS PLUS NOTRE DAME GOLFERS (of 50): 1. McCormick Clouser (BSU) 66; 2. (tie) Cory Sciupider (ND)* 67 and Kevin Lee (LBSU) 67; 4. Matt Oshrine (LOY) 68; 5. Matthew Rushton (ND) 69; 6. (tie) Jens Verhey (ND)* 70, Brendan Peel (LOY) 70 and Garreth Lappin (MSU) 70; 9. (tie) Thomas Steve (ND) 71; 15. (tie) Patrick Grahek (ND) 72; 18. (tie) Tyler Wingo (ND) 73; 24. (tie) Blake Barens (ND)* 75; 30. (tie) Liam Cox (ND) 76; 38. (tie) David Lowe (ND)* 78; 46. (tie) Zach Toste (ND)* 81.
* – playing as individual competitor
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director