Oct. 25, 2008
UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship
Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 27-28, 2008
8:30 a.m. (ET) both days
Forest Oaks Country Club
Par 72/7,197 yards
Irish Head To Tobacco Road For Final Tournament Of Fall Season
Notre Dame will wind up its five-event fall schedule Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 27-28, when it travels to Greensboro, N.C., for the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship, to be played at the Forest Oaks Country Club, the former longtime home of the PGA Tour’s Greater Greensboro Open (now the Wyndham Championship). The Irish have posted three Top 10 tournament finishes this fall, with a season-best seventh-place showing at the Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Invitational late last month in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Notre Dame has been off for the past two weeks since a 10th-place finish (901, +37) in The Prestige at PGA WEST in La Quinta, Calif. The Irish will continue with their blossoming strength at the top of the lineup, as all-BIG EAST junior Doug Fortner (74.33 stroke average in 2008-09) anchors the Notre Dame quintet, along with rising sophomore standout Connor Alan-Lee (75.17). Freshman Max Scodro (74.78) returns to the lineup after a one-event hiatus, while fellow rookie Chris Walker (78.00) will join junior co-captain Olavo Batista (77.83) in making their debuts with the Irish travel squad.
Quoting Coach Kubinski…
“We’re headed to Forest Oaks this week planning to build on our improved play at PGA WEST and with the memory of a good start at last year’s Bridgestone. We held the lead there through 27 holes or so last season and, although we will again be without senior co-captain Josh Sandman (recovering from back surgery), who lives on the course at Forest Oaks, we have some veteran players in the lineup this week.
“(Junior) Doug played well in long stretches last year and knows the course. (Sophomore) Connor (Alan-Lee) will join the lineup at UNCG this time and has really shown great development this fall. Connor headed to the final round at PGA WEST in the Top 10. Both men have learned a great deal this semester and should be ready to display a solid effort.
“We’ll also add a pair of freshmen to the lineup this week. Max Scodro, who did a great job at Poppy Hills, returns to the lineup after enduring a personal loss in the family after our home event. We’ll certainly rally around him and expect him to get right back on track. Chris Walker will make his travel squad debut this week. Chris is a long hitter, solid putter and has a great junior golf resume. We’re excited about the futures of the these two talented freshmen and feel their additions to our lineup will give us a big lift.
“(Junior co-captain) Olavo (Batista) will fill out our lineup, making his debut with the travel squad. He has played very well of late. He had a nice start in our home tournament and did a nice job in his summer play. We look forward to his leadership and positive energy.”
Dates and Times
Teams will play the first two rounds (36 holes) on Monday and the final round on Tuesday, with Monday’s action beginning with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. (ET) and the afternoon round beginning on the heels of the completion of round one. Tuesday’s final round tee times will be assigned based on the 36-hole tournament standings, with the first groups going off via a split-tee (Nos. 1/10) start at 8:30 a.m. (ET). All times and formats are tentative and subject to change.
Following The Irish
Live scoring is available for the UNCG Bridgestone College Championship via the Golfstat web site. In addition, complete results following each day’s action will be posted on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com). The latest information from the tournament, including results, scheduling updates and weather delays, also will be provided on the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000). Furthermore, results also will be available via the Irish ALERT text-message system, which provides fans with regular updates on Notre Dame’s progress at UNCG Bridgestone College Championship through text messages sent to their cell phone. For more information, see the sidebar on the men’s golf page on UND.com.
The Tournament Format
A total of 14 five-man teams (70 participants, plus 10 additional golfers from UNCG and Duke competing on an individual basis) will be taking part in UNCG Bridgestone College Championship. Conventional collegiate golf team scoring rules will apply, with the lowest four scores in the five-man lineup for each round counting toward the team total. Scores by golfers competing on an individual basis do not count to the team score.
Besides tournament host UNC Greensboro, as well as Notre Dame, the remaining teams in the field for UNCG Bridgestone College Championship are: Duke, Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Pepperdine, South Alabama and Toledo.
According to the current edition of the Golf World/Nike Golf Top 25 coaches’ poll, six teams in this week’s tournament are either ranked or receiving votes. Michigan is ranked No. 25 in the poll, while Duke is just outside the Top 25 (65 votes; tied-26th if the poll were extended). Others earning votes in the latest coaches’ balloting include: Michigan State (27 votes; 35th), Pepperdine (19 votes, 39th), Louisville (17 votes, 40th) and Mississippi State (tie-48th).
Meanwhile, the Oct. 23 ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index show that seven of the top 50 teams will be on hand for UNCG Bridgestone College Championship. Leading the way is 22nd-ranked Michigan State, while others in the top 50 of the Golfweek rankings are Pepperdine (29th), Minnesota (32nd), Duke (37th), Louisville (41st), Michigan (44th) and Mississippi State (47th).
In addition, the Oct. 25 Golfstat rankings indicate seven of this week’s participants appeared in that service’s Top 50. No. 27 Pepperdine, No. 35 Michigan State and 36th-ranked Duke will be the pace-setters for the tournament field, while Michigan (41st), Louisville (42nd), Mississippi State (44th) and Minnesota (46th) also are on the first page of the rankings board.
Through four tournaments this fall, Notre Dame has faced five of the other teams it will see in this week’s UNCG Bridgestone College Championship, going 1-5 against Michigan (1-0), Michigan State (0-2), Minnesota (0-1), UNC Greensboro (0-1) and Pepperdine (0-1). The Irish got their first win over this group of common opponents at their most recent tournament (The Prestige at PGA WEST), finishing seven shots ahead of Michigan, while also trailing Michigan State by one stroke and Pepperdine by five strokes in the same event. MSU, Minnesota and UNCG took part in the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic earlier this month, with Notre Dame ending up three shots back of UNCG, 37 behind Minnesota and 40 back of Michigan State.
Forest Oaks is rated by PGA TOUR members as a favorite stop on the PGA TOUR. Carved from North Carolina hardwoods by noted architect Ellis Maples, Forest Oaks opened in 1962 to wide acclaim. It was already known as one of the best tests of golf in a state known for great golf tests when it became the home course of the venerable Greater Greensboro Open in 1977 (now known as the Wyndham Championship). As the golf course matured, alterations to the course were necessary. In 2002, the job of restoring the course to all its glory was assigned to Davis Love III’s Love Design Group. At its absolute longest length, it can play to more than 7,400 yards.
Notre Dame returns to the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship for the second consecutive year, having finished ninth in last fall’s 15-team event at 14-over par 878 (292-295-291). The Irish led after the first round and were among the tournament leaders at the turn in round two before tumbling back in the pack and winding up 18 strokes behind tournament champion Louisville. Current senior Josh Sandman, making his return to his home course, was in position to take medalist honors, trailing by only two shots entering the final round before finishing in a team-best 15th-place tie at one-over par 217 (68-72-77).
Among this week’s participants for Notre Dame, junior Doug Fortner is the only Irish player who made last year’s trip to Greensboro, tying for 29th place at five-over par 221 (74-74-73).
Senior Josh Sandman (out for the fall following off-season back surgery) and junior Olavo Batista are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2008-09 season. It’s the first time either man has been chosen to fill that role.
The .500 Rule
According to a rule passed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee prior to the 2007-08 season, teams must finish with a winning head-to-head record (i.e. better than .500) in order to be considered for a berth in postseason play. Notre Dame currently owns a 19-37 (.339) record against Division I opponents this season.
Things You Should Know About The Irish
- Notre Dame has won six BIG EAST Conference titles in its 13-year league affiliation, stringing together three consecutive crowns from 1995-97 and again from 2004-06. The Irish also have made 33 NCAA postseason appearances in their history (most recently in 2006 with a trip to the NCAA East Regional), winning the 1944 national title and finishing second in 1937.
- Notre Dame has taken its play to new levels in recent years, posting the three single-season stroke averages in school history since head coach Jim Kubinski took over as head coach in January 2005. The Irish also have carded 11 of the top 15 tournament scores (54 holes) in program history during the Kubinski era, including a school-record 842 (-22) at the 2006 BIG EAST Championship.
- Notre Dame’s impressive resurgence of late has been augmented by its play against nationally-ranked opponents. In fact, since Kubinski arrived under the Golden Dome, the Irish have defeated 15 Top 25 teams (according to Golfweek) and posted 16 top-five tournament finishes, including three event titles (most recently the `06 BIG EAST Championship).
- Kubinski himself was nominated for a place on the 2007 GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teachers List, after being placed into consideration by the Indiana Section of the PGA. Approximately 400-500 people are chosen annually from the 30,000 PGA professionals nationwide for a few select places on the GOLF Magazine list, whose membership includes such notables as Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and Rick Smith.
Next Up: Palmas Del Mar Intercollegiate (March 9-11)
Notre Dame will tee off the 2009 spring season by making a rare trip outside the continental United States, heading to Humacao, P.R., for the Palmas Del Mar Intercollegiate, hosted by fellow BIG EAST Conference member St. John’s on The Flamboyan Course at Palmas del Mar Country Club.
— ND —