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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Irish jump to early lead in first competition of the season

Returning to South Bend after an eventful summer, the Notre Dame men’s golf team kicked off its third season under head coach John Handrigan yesterday at the University Ridge Golf Course in Verona, Wisconsin.

The Irish headed into the Badger Invitational with a fresh confidence, after sending a trio of golfers to the US Amateur this summer at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. Senior Hunter Ostrom and junior Davis Chatfield were returning competitors for the Irish at the event. The Irish also had an incoming freshman qualify for the event in Palmer Jackson. This is the second consecutive year Jackson has qualified for the match, making him a recruit the staff will be excited to nurture and develop. Jackson took down Auburn graduate Jacob Solomon one-up, before defeating Stanford national champion and 2018 US Amateur semifinalist Isaiah Salinda, two-up.

Jackson was able to advance all the way to the quarterfinals of the event, the furthest any Notre Dame golfer has finished in the tournament in the past 79 years, tying Tom Veech’s run to the quarterfinals in 1950. Veech once beat Arnold Palmer in a match and would go on to set the course record at Burke Golf Course at Notre Dame. That being said, the young freshman has some big shoes to fill, but the young man seems ready to approach the challenge, after posting impressive scores over the summer, winning at the AJGA Ohio State, the CR Miller Match Play, a U.S. Junior Qualifier, a PGA Junior Qualifier and the Sunnehanna Amateur Qualifier. Jackson’s teammates who competed at the event put up impressive stats last season. Chatfield finished the year with a team high stroke average of 71.07, while Ostrom brought home the Northern Intercollegiate individual trophy and claimed four more championships over the course of the summer including the Southwestern Amateur, the Eastern Amateur, a U.S. Amateur qualifier and the McCall Amateur Invitational.

The Irish finished their first day at the invitational on top of the leaderboard with a team score of 5 under par. Kansas came into the clubhouse at second, three strokes behind the Irish at two under par.  Ostrom set the tone for the Irish, finishing 3 under par, putting in 5 birdies on the day. While Chatfield and senior Davis Lamb followed close behind both finishing their first rounds at 1 under par. Jackson finished his round at even par after a bogey on the 17th hole. Competing as an individual, sophomoreTaichi Kho also finished his first round performance at 3 under par. 

 The Irish will look to extend their lead over the rest of the field before the tournament comes to an end on Tuesday. Next up for the Irish is the Windon Memorial Classic hosted by Northwestern at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. The Irish will have one more road tournament in Toledo, Ohio at the Inverness Intercollegiate, before they return to South Bend for the 14th annual Fighting Irish Classic at Warren Golf Course, which played host to the US Senior Open over the summer.