The Irish protected their home course and claimed the top spot on the leaderboard Sunday after the first round of the ninth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic.
Irish sophomore Liam Cox watches the flight of a shot as he follows through during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 31.Notre Dame carded a one-over-par score of 285 for a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the eight-team Gridiron Classic at the Warren Golf Course. The Irish have four players in the top 10 and lead Long Beach State by one stroke, Michigan State by three strokes and Loyola (Maryland) by four.
Heading into this event after an 11th place finish at Northwestern’s Windon Memorial Classic last Monday, the Irish rebounded and improved upon their last-round score at Windon by 11 strokes. This is the fifth time this season the Irish have earned an overall score better than 290.
“We competed very well today, both individually and as a team,” Irish coach James Kubinski said. “Our players were able to put those bad shots every player hits behind them and focus on the shot about to be played. That takes maturity and patience.”
Junior Cory Sciupider leads the Irish individually into the second round. Playing unattached from the team, Sciupider is tied for second place with a four-under-par score of 67. Schiupider had eight birdies and carded the best Irish round at the Classic since the start of the tournament in 2006. He stands one shot behind the tournament leader, Ball State senior McCormick Clouser, who shot a five-under-par score of 66.
“Cory played a brilliant round, posting 67.” Kubinski said. “His talent is undeniable. He has worked hard to tighten up some areas of his game and had it all there today. He had two hiccups but kept a good attitude and posted eight birdies today, which is pretty rare."
While Sciupider leads the Irish as an individual, sophomore Matthew Rushton is at the top of the Notre Dame lineup. He posted a two-under par 69 and heads into the second round at fifth place.
“Matt played an excellent round again today for us,” Kubinski said. “It's a lot of fun to see a player go ‘all in,’ committing fully to the process of improving and experience these results as affirmation.”
The remainder of Notre Dame’s lineup stands in the top 20. Freshman Thomas Steve shot an even 71 to tie for ninth place, while senior Patrick Grahek’s one-over par 72 landed him in 15th place. Senior Tyler Wingo shot a two-over par 73 to tie for 18th place.
“We had a solid round today but, with two rounds to go, we won't pay much attention to the leaderboard,” Kubinski said. “For us, it's all about focusing on what we can control, our attitude and approach and not the scores. Our boys can rest tonight knowing they brought a good approach today.”
The Irish will lead the other seven teams into the next round of the event. The second round will be played at the Lost Dunes Golf Club in Bridgeman, Michigan, one of Notre Dame’s practice courses.
“We play a different golf course tomorrow but attitude and approach both travel,” Kubinski said. “There are just small adjustments to make and our familiarity with the golf course will allow us to do so.”
The Irish take that mindset into the second round of the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic today at the Lost Dunes Golf Club in Bridgeman, Michigan. The first group will tee off at 11:10 a.m.