Junior Doug Fortner finished one shot off the school record, firing a six-under par 210 to tie for second place at the 2009 BIG EAST Conference Championship, which wrapped up Tuesday at the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City, Fla.

Irish Men's Golf Heads To Historic Pebble Beach For Saint Mary's Invitational

Sept. 26, 2008

Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Invitational
Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 29-30, 2008
7:30 a.m. (PT) both days
Poppy Hills Golf Course
Pebble Beach, Calif.
Par 72/6,833 yards

Irish Visit Historic Pebble Beach For Saint Mary’s Invitational
For the second consecutive tournament, Notre Dame will play on one of the nation’s premier golf layouts, heading to Pebble Beach, Calif., Monday and Tuesday for the Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Invitational at the famed Poppy Hills Golf Course. The Irish are coming off a 10th-place finish at the season-opening USF Olympic Club Intercollegiate on Sept. 8-9, shooting a three-round score of 889 (+37), including a final-round score of 292.

Junior all-BIG EAST Conference selection (and Tustin, Calif., native) Doug Fortner will lead off the Notre Dame lineup, having tied for 46th place (226, +13) at the USF tourney earlier this month. Sophomore Tyler Hock was the top Irish finisher at that event, having tied for 16th place (218, +5) on the rugged Olympic layout. Freshman Max Scodro gets the call for the first time in his college career, after posting a fourth-place tie (215, -1) as an individual at DePaul’s John Dallio Memorial on Sept. 21-22. A pair of sophomores and California residents — Connor Alan-Lee (Solana Beach) and Jeff Chen (Walnut) — round out the Notre Dame starting five, while junior Carl Santos-Ocampo will compete as an individual.

Quoting Coach Kubinski…
“This is our first event out on the Monterey Peninsula, at least in my years here at Notre Dame. It’s a brilliant golf area and one we’re thrilled to be visiting. We’re hoping to get a round in at Pebble Beach before our practice round at Poppy and then, of course, will compete Monday and Tuesday at Poppy.

“Our lineup will consist of one junior, Doug Fortner, three sophomores and our new edition, freshman Max Scodro. Max is coming off an impressive Top 5 finish in his first college event at DePaul last weekend. He’s an upbeat young guy with a great deal of talent. I think he’ll give us a very positive vibe this week.

“Doug is rounding into form. I think he’ll be on a mission this weekend. He has worked very hard on his overall game these last couple weeks and is showing good signs with the flat stick. Of course, our three sophomores are all capable of leading the way and are coming off some great stretches of play at The Olympic Club.

“We’re all very motivated. We have something to prove this weekend. We weren’t satisfied with our results out at Olympic. I know we’ll give it a great, great effort at Poppy Hills. I can’t predict scores but we’re very much looking forward to the trip. If we can get a few putts to drop and, similar to our American Ryder Cup effort last weekend, get some positive things to happen for us on Day 1, I look for us to be competing at the top of the board by Tuesday afternoon.”

Dates and Times
Teams will play the first two rounds (36 holes) on Monday, beginning with a shotgun start for round one at 7:30 a.m. PT (10:30 a.m. ET) and featuring continuous play into the second round. Pairings and tee times for Tuesday’s final round will be based upon the 36-hole standings, with another shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. PT. All times and formats are tentative and subject to change.

Following The Irish
Although live scoring is not available for the Saint Mary’s Invitational, 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 available 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 the Saint Mary’s Invitational through text messages sent to their cell phone. For more information, visit UND.com.

The Tournament Format
A total of 16 five-man teams (80 participants, plus the possibility of some additional golfers competing on an individual basis) will be taking part in the Saint Mary’s Invitational. 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.

The Teams
Besides Notre Dame and tournament host Saint Mary’s (Calif.), the remaining teams in the 16-team field for the Saint Mary’s Invitational are: Akron, Cal State Northridge, Gonzaga, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Texas-Arlington and Wisconsin.

According to this week’s edition of the Golf World/Nike Golf Top 25 coaches’ poll, UC Irvine is the highest-ranked team scheduled to take part in this week’s tournament, garnering six votes (tied for 48th place if the poll were extended).

Meanwhile, the newest ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index show that six of the top 100 teams will be on hand for the Saint Mary’s Invitational. Leading the way is No. 47 Wisconsin, followed by No. 71 San Francisco and No. 80 Notre Dame. Others in the mix are No. 91 Miami (Ohio), No. 93 UC Irvine and No. 100 Nebraska.

In addition, the year-end Golfstat rankings indicate eight of this week’s participants appeared in that service’s Top 100 at the close of the 2007-08 campaign. No. 33 UC Irvine sets the pace, followed by No. 44 Saint Mary’s (Calif.), No. 57 Wisconsin, No. 61 Texas-Arlington, No. 73 Loyola Marymount, No. 76 Notre Dame, No. 90 UC Santa Barbara and No. 98 Cal State Northridge.

Notre Dame already has faced four of the other teams it will see in this week’s Saint Mary’s Invitational. At the season-opening USF Olympic Club Intercollegiate on Sept. 8-9, the Irish went 3-1 against this foursome, having defeated San Francisco (two shots), Santa Clara (11 shots) and Saint Mary’s (13 shots), while winding up six shots behind Wisconsin.

The Course
Located on the scenic Monterey Peninsula in Pebble Beach, Calif., Poppy Hills Golf Course is among the nation’s most well-known venues, primarily for its association with the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in early February. Poppy Hills is a challenging golf course that weaves through the Del Monte Forest, and a 2007 Zagat Survey ranked Poppy Hills the 12th “Most Popular Course” in the U.S, while the layout was named “National Course of the Year” in 2006 by the National Golf Course Owners Association.

The Robert Trent Jones Jr. design opened in 1986 and is the home course for the Northern California Golf Association (NGCA), the first course in the United States to be owned and operated by an amateur golf association. Poppy Hills also includes a picturesque grass driving range, practice putting, chipping, bunker facilities and a swing video analysis system. The golf shop was named as one of the “Top 100 Golf Shops” in 2006 by Golf World Business magazine.

Noting The Irish At The Saint Mary’s Invitational

  • Notre Dame is making its first-ever appearance in this tournament, as well as on the Monterey Peninsula. Prior to the season-opening USF Olympic Club Intercollegiate in suburban San Francisco, the Irish had never played in a tournament in northern California.
  • This week’s tournament is the second of three events Notre Dame will play in the state of California this fall, with a trip to La Quinta for the Prestige at PGA WEST coming up on Oct. 12-14.

Captains Courageous
Senior Josh Sandman (out for the fall with a back injury) and junior Olavo Batista will serve as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2008-09 season.

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.

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 10 of the top 14 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: Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic (Oct. 6-7)
Notre Dame returns home for the third annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, to be held at the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus. Michigan State won last year’s event after Lamar won the inaugural tournament in 2006. Both former champions are in this year’s 17-team field, with Arkansas, UC Davis, Minnesota and Virginia also joining Notre Dame in the quest for top honors.

— ND —