Oct. 12, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. – Weather may have impacted the Rod Myers Invitational in extreme ways, with a lengthy opening day delay that shortened the tournament to 36 holes. University of Notre Dame sophomore men’s golfer Matthew Rushton did more than his part to weather the storm on Sunday, logging a career-best finish at the Duke University Golf Club.
Rushton carded rounds of 68-71 during the weekend, tying for runner-up honors at 139 (-5), a mere two strokes behind tournament medalist George Kilgore of East Carolina (68-69=137, -7). It was Rushton’s second career top five finish, and the fourth top 10 of his young collegiate career.
On the strength of Rushton’s strong result, Notre Dame gained two spots in the final team standings to place ninth at 596 (296-300).
“What a job by our sophomore, Matt Rushton,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “I’ve touted his play throughout this season but, the exciting thing is, he just keeps improving. When he may have been frustrated with long par stretches as a younger player, he now just keeps moving forward. Even with after a double bogey on his 16th hole today, at a time I believe he was either tied or one back, he put it behind him and finished birdie-eagle. Not many 19-year-olds can do that.”
After opening his second round with eight straight pars on Saturday before inclement weather suspended play, Rushton made an additional seven pars to begin Sunday before the aforementioned double bogey at the par 5 seventh hole.
“The double was unfortunate as he laid up on the par 5 to wedge distance, but had a sloppy lie,” Kubinski said. “Not quite casual water but not the lie you’d expect there, either.”
Rushton battled back from the misstep at the par 3 eighth hole by rolling in a birdie. The Cape Town, South Africa native closed the tournament in sterling fashion, knocking in an eagle three at the par 5 ninth hole to spin a back nine 35 (-1) as part of his final round one-under-par 71.
“The shot he hit on his final hole though, a high, cut 2 Iron to four feet, was as good as it gets,” Kubinski said. “Great eagle finish. Total commitment and a great answer to some adversity. I’m just so proud of the work he had undertaken, an all-in approach, to chase his goals.”
Senior Patrick Grahek turned in a solid second round score as well, climbing 15 spots up the leaderboard on Sunday. Grahek cashed in a pair of birdie opportunities on his way to an even par 72, closing the weekend in a tie for 27th place at 147 (75-72).
Senior Tyler Wingo worked his way up the tournament standings during the final round, notching two birdies during a four-over-par 76 to tie for 49th place (77-76=153). Junior Cory Sciupider drifted back to a share of 67th place (76-84=160), while freshman Thomas Steve tied for 69th place (82-81=163). Playing as an unattached competitor, sophomore Blake Barens shared 64th place at 159 (81-78).
“Our team continued the pattern this fall of having two players falling off toward the back of the field, which has masked the play of both Matt and Patrick too often,” Kubinski said. “We counted 144 holes of team play this week, so to be about two holes per guy over 144 holes from a solid top five finish is frustrating.
“The tough thing, though, is that the two players who fell off this week were both top 10 finishers last tournament,” Kubinski added. “We need to find a way to stop the slides when a player is off his game a bit.”
East Carolina made a big surge to the team championship on Sunday, erasing a three-stroke deficit overnight to win by seven shots at 561 (281-280). Round one leader North Carolina checked in as the tournament runner-up at 568 (278-290), followed by Baylor (286-284=570) in third place. Duke (291-290=581) and Charlotte (287-300=587) rounded out the top five.
“(Famed football coach) Bill Parcells always said, ‘You are who your record says you are,'” Kubinski said. “We’re not happy with our record but feel our recent finishes aren’t who we can be. We’ve been a part of the NCAA landscape seven times since 2003-04 (five NCAA teams and two individuals). This group needs to show the same desire and hunger to compete those teams did. These guys through the lineup need to fight harder for results. We’re capable of doing so.”
Notre Dame closes its 2014 fall tournament schedule on Oct. 25-26 at the Bridgestone Invitational in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Rod Myers Invitational-Duke University Golf Club-Par-72, 7,136 Yds.
TEAMS (FINAL): 1. East Carolina 281-280=561, -15; 2. North Carolina 278-290=568, -8; 3. Baylor 286-284=570, -6; 4. Duke 291-290=581, +5; 5. Charlotte 287-300=587, +11; 6. Northwestern 295-293=588, +12; T7. Michigan State 288-304=592, +16; T7. Iowa 295-297=592, +16; 9. Notre Dame 296-300=596, +20; 10. Tulsa 286-312=598, +22; 11. Liberty 287-313=600, +24; 12. Dartmouth 304-308=612, +36.
TOP-10 INDIVIDUALS (FINAL): 1. George Kilgore (East Carolina) 68-69=137, -7; T2. Matthew Rushton (Notre Dame) 68-71=139, -5; T2. Kyle Jones (Baylor) 69-70=137, -5; T4. William Register (North Carolina) 68-72=140, -4; T4. Wesley Conover (East Carolina) 72-68=140, -4; T6. Brandon Dalinka (North Carolina) 72-69=141, -3; T6. Al Dickens (East Carolina) 71-70=141, -3; T8. Jake Shuman (Duke) 71-71=142, -2; T8. Ben Griffin (North Carolina) 67-75=142, -2; T10. Freddy Anderson * (Baylor) 70-73=143, -1; T10. Filippo Zucchetti (Baylor) 69-74=143, -1; T10. Victor Wiggins (Charlotte) 71-72=143, -1.
NOTRE DAME INDIVIDUALS (FINAL): T2. Matthew Rushton 68-71=139, -5; T27. Patrick Grahek 75-72=147, +3; T49. Tyler Wingo 77-76=153, +9; T64. Blake Barens * 81-78=159, +15; T67. Cory Sciupider 76-84=160, +16; T69. Thomas Steve 82-81=163, +19.
*- Played as an individual