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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Irish seize season opener at Badger Invitational

The Irish started the season with a win out of a 12-team field at the Badger Invitational hosted by Wisconsin. They entered round three of play tied with Kansas, but secured a 14-stroke win with a 22-under-par third round.

The match was headlined by the performance of Irish senior Hunter Ostrom. Ostrom finished 11 under par, including a six under par in the third round. That score put him just one stroke off of Nevada’s Sam Harned, who took home individual champion honors. Irish head coach John Handrigan said he was thrilled with Ostrom’s performance but emphasized that his primary takeaway was the team’s spectacular play as a unit.

“We played outstandingly. It was a strong field and a commanding victory. It was a pretty impressive statement to start the year,” he said. “The entire team played well. Hunter Ostrom coming in second place and one shot back, he played great golf and had an excellent summer and rolled it over into this first tournament of the fall. It was impressive what he was able to do.”

Michelle Mehelas | The Ob
Irish senior Hunter Ostrom follows through on his swing during the Fighting Irish Classic on Oct. 8.

Notre Dame junior Davis Chatfield also finished in the top 10 with a tie for sixth at seven under par. Chatfield matched Ostrom’s 66 in the final round, carding no bogeys for a career-low day. Handrigan had high praise for Chatfield’s performance.

“Davis played well all week and just did not make a ton of putts the first two days. His ball striking stats this week were excellent,” Handrigan said. “He came through in the clutch today with a big round that jump-started our team. It was a big part of our victory. Sixty-sixes bogey-free are hard to come by. He’s a special player and played great.”

Irish seniors Davis Lamb and John Felitto joined Ostrom in providing veteran leadership. Davis finished tied for 17th at one under par, posting 71s in rounds one and two and a 73 in round three. Felitto finished at four over par, and he saved the best for last with a third-round, two-under-par 70. Handrigan said he believes his seniors are key to what the team is going to accomplish in the future.

“They’ve been a part of the team for years. To have the leadership that we have from the seniors and the culture that they have established is a reason why we have had such improvements over the last few years,” he said. “It’s key to why we started off great this year.”

Handrigan pointed to his team’s experience as a reason they were able to close the tournament out after being tied through two rounds.

“The last three years we have had a lot of opportunities where we have been in contention,” Handrigan said. “It is always tough to win because there are a lot of things that have to go your way. I think the experience that we have had over the last few years of being in contention helps. This summer we had a lot of guys that played great golf and won a lot of golf tournaments, ... so that experience goes a long way. Everyone was in a position where they could excel, and it showed. Obviously, everyone’s nervous in that situation, but we were more prepared to embrace our nerves and come out on top.”

After returning to South Bend with trophy in hand, the team will focus on the Windon Memorial Classic at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, beginning Monday. The Northwestern-hosted tournament features opponents like Army, Michigan, Michigan State and UCLA. Handrigan said that while he was pleased with his team’s performance this weekend, he and his players are ready for more.

“These guys are hungry. They’re not content with one win,” he said. “We talked a bit after the round and our players — Hunter in particular — said that there is a lot more where that came from, so to speak. We’re all on the same page that we want more and we’re not content with one victory.”