Irish finish 14th at Invite with sub-300 outing
By KEVIN BERCHOU
At this weekend's Johnny Owens Invitational in Lexington, Ky., the Notre Dame men's golf team did something they haven't done this season — post a cumulative round score of under 300. They accomplished the feat two times and finished 14th with a three round total score of 893. Purdue won the tournament with a score of 857.
Although his team was 14th, Irish coach John Jasinski was optimistic about his team's play.
"I think this is a move in the right direction," Jasinski said. "We got more consistent play from the bottom part of the team, and that was something that had been lacking in recent weeks."
For the first part of the season, Notre Dame's highlight reel included Steve Ratay. The senior shot well once again posting two rounds of par or better in finishing tied for 16th. His teammates supported him for the first time this season.
The squad's three freshmen — K.C. Wiseman, Steve Colnitis and Ryan Marshall — all improved on their previous week's play led by Wiseman's 55th-place finish. Wiseman's improvement is a sign to Jasinski that the team's future appears bright.
"K.C. Wiseman has really started to be more consistent as a freshman and that's important," he said. "For a while it was only Steve who was playing at a championship level. No one else was even coming close to doing that."
Adding to the improved play of the first year players was junior Brandon Lunke — sparked by a switch to a different driver — who split fairway after fairway in finishing 29th.
"Brandon Lunke stepped up," Jasinski said. "We needed him to do that."
While the scores have moved lower as the weeks have passed, Notre Dame's first-year head coach is by no means satisfied with his team's play. Inadequate, unrefined short games are still killing the Irish, who are leaving too many shots on the course.
"We need to get better from inside 50 yards," Jasinski said. "You can't ever be satisfied with your short game. You're constantly improving and we leave a lot of shots out there."
Jasinski praised Ratay's patience and leadership on being the captain of this young Irish squad.
"Steve is really showing his character by keeping his composure and not letting some of the poor play get to him," he said. "He's been our star."
While any improvement is cause for optimism, Jasinski admitted the team still has a long way to go if wants to seriously contend at the Big East Championships to be contested at the Warren Course later this month.
"We're young and inexperienced, and we know that," he said. "We have enough talent, but with so many freshmen making up the core of the team it's a steep learning curve. We have a ways to go."
While improvement is needed, Jasinski believes his team can hit on all cylinders in a tournament this year.
"We definitely have not had a weekend where everything has clicked," he said. "But I think it's coming. I'm sensing we can put it together on a given weekend."
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002