April 30, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) and freshman Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.)) have been selected to the 2009 All-BIG EAST Conference Men’s Golf Team, it was announced Thursday by the conference office. For the first time since the BIG EAST began awarding all-conference status in 1999, the all-BIG EAST squad was chosen through a vote of the conference coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.
This marks the seventh time in the past eight years (all but 2006) that Notre Dame has had more than one golfer tapped for all-BIG EAST honors. The Irish were one of three programs with multiple honorees on this year’s 11-man all-conference team, joining Louisville and Marquette in that category. Marquette’s Mike Van Sickle copped BIG EAST Player of the Year honors, while Louisville’s Riley Wheeldon was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and UofL skipper Mark Crabtree took home the conference’s Coach of the Year prize.
Fortner posted a team-best 74.24 stroke average in 2008-09, while collecting all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive year. He becomes the seventh Irish golfer to earn all-BIG EAST status twice since the creation of the award in 1999, joining Steve Ratay (2001-02), Tommy Balderston (2003-04), Mark Baldwin (2003, 2005-06), Eric Deutsch (2004-05), Cole Isban (2004-05, 2007) and current Notre Dame senior co-captain Josh Sandman (2007-08).
Fortner posted a pair of top-five finishes this year (giving him five in his career and four in the past two seasons alone), including a tie for second at the BIG EAST Championship on April 21 in Dade City, Fla. The Californian matched his career-low score of 210 (-6), tying the third-lowest tournament total in school history (one stroke off the program record), and ending up with a personal-best final-round 66 (-6), which equaled the best single-round mark ever posted by an Irish golfer in BIG EAST Championship play (and third-lowest in the school’s record books).
What’s more, with Fortner’s runner-up finish, Notre Dame now has had at least one golfer finish either first or second at the BIG EAST Championship nine times (and at least one top-five finisher in all 14 appearances), with Fortner being the highest finisher for the Irish at the league tourney since Baldwin took medalist honors in 2005.
Scodro nabbed his first all-conference citation on Thursday, becoming the sixth Irish freshman to receive all-BIG EAST plaudits and the first since Isban in 2004. It capped off a superb rookie season for the Chicago native, who rolled up four top-10 finishes, the most for any Notre Dame freshman in his first year since the program moved from dual matches to tournament play in 1968-69. He wound up third on the team with a 74.72 stroke average, the second-lowest single-season index recorded by an Irish freshman (minimum of 13.5 rounds) since 1954 — only Sandman’s 73.40 average in 2005-06 exceeded Scodro’s effort this year.
The highlight of Scodro’s debut season came on Oct. 28, when he shared medalist honors at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship in Greensboro, N.C., becoming only the third Notre Dame rookie in the program’s 80-year history to win a tournament title (first in 18 years), and the first ever to do so in a 54-hole event. Scodro then closed out the year with a tie for seventh place at the BIG EAST Championship with a career-low-tying score of three-under par 213, the same total he carded in Greensboro on the way to that tourney’s crown.
The Irish, who carded the fourth-lowest season stroke average in school history (297.97) this year, will not lose a single player to graduation from their current 11-man roster, with Sandman intending to petition for a fifth year of eligibility following his season-long hiatus while recuperating from back surgery last summer. Along with its three all-conference returnees (Sandman, Fortner and Scodro), as well as six other players who cracked the starting lineup in at least two tournaments in 2008-09, Notre Dame will add another talented face to the mix as incoming freshman Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Chadwick HS) arrives on campus this fall.
— ND —