Oct. 6, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The Notre Dame men’s golf team won the fourth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic by turning in a final round 292 (+12), holding off Ohio State and Arkansas down the stretch. Senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) carded a four-over par 74 at the soggy Warren Golf Course to claim his first individual title as a collegiate golfer.
“I think it’s been unbelievable to watch our team work so hard to get here,” head coach Jim Kubinski said. “To play at home is really special, but to be able to win at home is even better.”
Notre Dame ended up finishing at +30 for the three-round tournament (870). Ohio State (+34/874), Arkansas (+38/878), Texas Arlington (+43/883) and Lamar (+44/884) rounded out the top-five. Kevin Hesbois of Lamar, David Lingmerth of Arkansas and Dan Charen of Ohio State all finished two strokes behind Sandman (214) to share second-place honors.
“It feels great to win,” said Sandman. “It took me five years to do it, but I was finally able to get it done. I knew I had a shot [when things got close over the back nine holes] so I just had to grind it out and get it done,” the fifth-year senior added.
Sandman totaled a two-over par 212 (70-68-74) for the tournament to earn the win. He birdied the 14th and 17th and made an important par put on 18 to become Notre Dame’s first medalist since Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep. (AZ)) claimed the Palmas Del Mar last season.
“Josh came back to be a part of this team and to finish his time here [at Notre Dame] right,” Kubinski added. “Today was a great first step in that process and we think this win for Josh can help propel him to that next level.”
Scodro also had a role to play in the FIGCC title, as he posted a clutch par-birdie-par finish on holes 16, 17 and 18. For the day, he turned in an even-par 70 to move up 12 places on the leaderboard into a tie for 10th (73-75-70-218).
Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) finished tied for 24th after turning in a final round 76 to total a 12-over par 222. His final round counted towards Notre Dame’s team score, as he helped the Irish claim their first regular-season tournament title since winning the Nokia Sugar Bowl Tulane Invitational during the 2004-05 season.
Notre Dame’s round three team score also reflected a two-over par 72 carded by Connor Alan Lee (Solana Beach, Calif./La Jolla Country Day School). He finished in a tie for 37th with a 15-over par 225. The junior went birdie-par-par on 16, 17 and 18 to match the strong finishes of his Irish teammates and help secure the title.
“To a man, I think our guys would say they didn’t play their best golf, but they all competed really well and that’s what the win was all about; competing and finishing down the stretch.”
Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) finished in a tie for 40th after carding a seven-over par 77 (73-76-77-226) on the final day of play. Fortner’s round one 73 helped get Notre Dame off to a great start at the event.
Freshman Paul McNamara III (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Chadwick School) led an Irish contingent of six golfers who competed as individuals on the final day of play. McNamara turned in a four-over par 74 in round three, the best score of his young Irish career. He finished tied for 65th (80-79-74-233).
The individual entrants also included seniors Olava Batista (Sao Paolo, Brazil/Chapel), Carl Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla./Community School of Naples) and Kyle Willis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) as well as juniors Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif./Los Altos) and Dustin Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll).
Chen continued his strong play to post a six-over par 76 and finish in a tie for 28th (74-73-76-223). Willis notched a eight-over par 78 in round three, finishing tied for 47th with a +17 mark (76-73-78-227). Santos-Ocampo carded a third round 79 to tie for 53rd (74-75-79-228). Batista notched an 84 to finish with a 234 (75-75-84) and tie for 69th. Rounding out the Irish contingent, Zhang fired a final round 80 to finish tied for 72nd (81-74-80).
“It was really nice to feel the support of the whole athletic department and the surrounding community out there,” Kubinski concluded. “Matt and Josh’s crew did a great job to get this place [the Warren golf course] ready and throughout the event we really grew to appreciate all the support.”
The Irish will look to continue their hot start to the 2009-10 season at The Prestige at the PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. on Oct. 11-13.
— ND —