April 16, 2010
The Fighting Irish men’s golf squad is looking to start a new streak of BIG EAST titles at the 2010 BIG EAST Championship, which begins on Sunday, April 18 on the Copperhead Course of the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. Each of Notre Dame’s six BIG EAST titles has come as part of a three-year streak, as the Irish captured the league crown from 1995-97 (championship held in the fall) and from 2004-06. Notre Dame has never finished lower than fifth in the tournament since joining the conference for the 1995-96 campaign.
This season marks the 31st BIG EAST championship for men’s golf, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame’s 11 competitors will be Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, USF, and Villanova.
The tournament will include 54 holes, with Sunday, Monday and Tuesday consisting of one 18-hole round each. Each team’s lineup will include five golfers, with the lowest four scores for each round counting towards the overall team score for that day. All three days of play will begin with groups teeing off at 8:00 a.m. The Sunday groupings, based on a blind draw, have Notre Dame teeing off with Connecticut and Marquette beginning at 8:50 a.m. and continuing in 10-minute intervals. On Sunday and Monday, all golfers will go off the first tee, with tee times running through 11:10 a.m. Then for Tuesday’s final round, there will be a split-tee start that runs through 9:30 a.m. The teams will be reseeded on Monday and Tuesday based on their scores from the previous round.
Notre Dame’s probable lineup includes seniors Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) and Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) as well as sophomores Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame (Ariz.) Prep), Tom Usher (Bradford, England/Guiseley School), and Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands).
Following The Irish At The Championship
Daily recaps will be posted at und.com, while complete results and updated tee times will be posted on www.bigeast.org. Also, video highlights of the entire championship can be seen free of charge at the BIG EAST page as well. Live scoring of the championship will be available through www.Golfstat.com. (which can be accessed by clicking on the Live Results tab on the right-hand side of the Notre Dame men’s golf schedule page on und.com).
The 2010 BIG EAST Men’s championship will be contested on the Copperhead Course (par 71/7,340 yards) at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla. It will be the first time that the BIG EAST Championship has been played at Innisbrook, the 13th different site for the league’s men’s tournament.
The resort has consistently received top accolades – including Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play,” and Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Golf Resorts in America” – it also hosts an annual PGA Tour championship and the LPGA Legend Tour’s first major.
BIG EAST History
Notre Dame has participated in each of the past 14 BIG EAST Championships and finished among the top three 11 times since joining the conference. The Irish have won six titles (1995, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2006) to date, which puts them second in league history behind the nine crowns won by St. John’s from 1979-89. George Thomas served as the head coach for Notre Dame’s first three BIG EAST victories, while John Jasinski guided the Irish to the 2004 title and current head coach Jim Kubinski was at the helm when Notre Dame won the `05 and `06 events.
In addition to their six championships, the Irish have finished as tournament runner-up four times (1998 – tie with St. John’s, 2002, 2003, 2007) and took third-place honors in 2000.
Notre Dame At The 2009 Championship
Doug Fortner posted a sparkling six-under 66 in the final round of the 2009 BIG EAST Championship to finish second, as the Irish placed fourth in the event held on the South Course (par 72/7,031 yards) of the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City, Fla. Fortner’s 54-hole total of 210 (73-71-66) tied for the third-best score in school history, as did his final round 66.
As a team, the Irish finished with a plus-nine 873 after shooting a final day 286, a six-stroke improvement over the team’s second day total (292) and a nine-stroke betterment of the opening round 295. Louisville’s Adam Hadwin (207) took home the individual crown and helped the Cardinals capture their second title in three years (847, -17).
Fortner played his first 27 holes in +3 fashion, but 10 birdies in his final three nines allowed the current senior to finish six under par. Max Scodro also finished in the top ten in his BIG EAST debut, firing a three-under 213 (71-70-72) to end in a tie for seventh. The top-ten finish was his fourth of the season, the most by a Notre Dame freshman since the program moved from dual matches to tournament play in 1968-69.
Jeff Chen, Dustin Zhang, and Connor Alan-Lee also competed for the Irish, finishing in 30th, 47th, and 48th, respectively. Chen posted a one-over 73 on the final day to finish with an eight-over par 224, while Zhang carded three consecutive 77s (231, +15) and Alan-Lee was +5 over the final two rounds after opening with an 83 (232, +16).
From 2003-08, earning all-BIG EAST status was based on finishing in the top-10 at the conference’s championship event. Starting last season, the 10-member all-BIG EAST team shifted to a coaches vote. Each coach will submit a ballot with five nominees in order of rank after the BIG EAST Championship, while also voting for a Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year. Announcement of the 2010 honorees is scheduled to be released at the end of April.
All told, Notre Dame has had 15 players earn a total of 24 all-BIG EAST citations, with Mark Baldwin (2003, ’05-`06) and Cole Isban (2004-05, `07) leading the way with three apiece. Doug Fortner and Josh Sandman each look join Baldwin and Isban as three-time all-conference honorees, as Sandman was named to the all-BIG EAST team in 2007 and 2008, and Fortner earned the distinction in 2008 and 2009. Max Scodro is the only other member of the current Irish team to earn all-BIG EAST status, doing so last season after finishing seventh at the BIG EAST Championship.
Twelve Irish players earned the all-conference nod in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1984-94, giving Notre Dame a total of 27 all-conference players who have combined for 42 all-league selections.
BIG EAST Medalists
Notre Dame golfers also have won medalist honors four times, tying Virginia Tech for the third-highest total in conference history behind St. John’s (seven) and Providence (six). The most recent Irish individual champion was crowned in 2005 when Mark Baldwin won the weather-shortened BIG EAST Championship with a five-over par 75. Other Notre Dame golfers who were medalists at the conference tournament include: Bill Moore (1995), Todd Vernon (1997) and Steve Ratay (2001 – three-way tie with Brian Krusoe of Virginia Tech and Andrew Svoboda of St. John’s).
Versus The BIG EAST Field
During the 2009-10 season, the Irish have posted a 5-1 record versus BIG EAST opposition including a 1-0 mark against Connecticut, Marquette and USF, a 2-0 record versus Georgetown and a 0-1 mark against Louisville.
At The Match Play, which was played from Oct. 30 -Nov. 1 during the fall slate, the Irish faced Georgetown, Connecticut and Louisville. Playing at the Pine Needles Golf Course in Southern Pines, N.C., Notre Dame downed Georgetown in the quarterfinals by virtue of winning more holes in a match that ended 3.0-3.0. Then, in the semifinals, the Irish picked up a 5.5-0.5 win over UConn. In the finals, Louisville persevered to knock-off Notre Dame, 3.5-2.5.
At the Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., Notre Dame earned wins over USF and Marquette on March 28 when they clashed as three of the 16 teams at the FAU Spring Break Championship. The Irish bested USF by five strokes and Marquette by 21.
Notre Dame’s first meeting of the season with Georgetown came when the Hoyas travelled to Notre Dame, Ind. for the 2009 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, which was played on the Warren Golf course on Oct. 5-6. After carding an 870 and winning the event, the Irish beat Georgetown by 54 strokes.
Fighting Irish head coach Jim Kubinski shares some thoughts on the upcoming BIG EAST Championship:
On the lineup heading into the championship… “The five starters that we are actually taking to BIG EAST posted 280 yesterday [versus Detroit Mercy], which is lower than we ever shot in any tournament including the NCAAs so that’s exciting. We’re finally playing the golf people expected us to play this year. We’ve been up and down, but we’re coming together at the right time. I think that’s the exciting thing right now about the lineup. The three sophomores understand that they belong and that they can beat anybody. I don’t know if they realized that before, but they do now and that’s huge for us.”
On the look of preparedness in the team… “I haven’t really seen that look in our guys’ eyes other than the day we shot 16 under to win the BIG EAST in 2006. Ever since then, I don’t know if it’s been the younger guys not having as much confidence or being nervous about their results that they’re playing a little scared at times, but I haven’t noticed that at all this week. There’s a different look in their eyes and yesterday’s win over Detroit Mercy just confirmed that. I’m really talking about the three sophomores [Max Scodro, Tom Usher and Chris Walker] and Doug [Fortner]. Doug just exudes confidence; you look at him and you just sense that there isn’t anything that he is worried about.”
On heading into the BIG EAST with veterans Josh Sandman and Doug Fortner at the top of the lineup… “It’s a huge factor for us. Doug really had a chance to win the tournament last year. He shot 66 in one of the rounds and played beautifully in the BIG EAST. Josh has also been right up there. Those guys will be comfortable in this environment because they’ve done it before and know they can do it. I think it’s going to have a nice impact on the younger guys because they don’t feel like they have to do anything special. If they just play and post their scores they know they have two guys who can really do some great things. I think we’re in a great situation. I didn’t know if we were going to get to where we got to yesterday [versus Detroit Mercy]. I’m talking about the way the guys are presenting themselves and the look in their eyes. If you look at it, Doug and Josh have played more tournaments than just about any other player in Notre Dame history, so two of the guys with the most experience are playing for us and that can’t hurt.”
On the competition in the BIG EAST tournament… “The interesting thing with Louisville is that they’re beyond the NCAA bubble right now in terms of rankings. This is different because the last few years they have been in [the NCAA Regional] regardless of the outcome of the tournament and that takes a lot of pressure off them when you can go into the championship and know that the NCAA tournament is already accepting you. We always had that actual pressure to play through, and now Louisville has it too. We’ve had that experience in the past though, so I believe it actually gives us an advantage. But, Louisville will be the number one team to beat this week.”
Last Time Out – Battle At The Warren
The Fighting Irish men’s golf team topped Detroit Mercy by six strokes on Wednesday, April 14 to take the Battle at The Warren title. Playing as individuals, senior Doug Fortner and sophomore Tom Usher led the way with minus-one 69 totals to tie for medalist honors. As a team, the Irish finished at 12-over par (292), while Detroit Mercy finished at 18-over par (298).
The starting Irish five consisted of seniors Carl Santos-Ocampo and Josh Sandman, junior Connor Alan Lee and sophomores Chris Walker and Max Scodro. Scodro led the team contingent with an even-par 70, while Sandman turned in a two-over par 72. Also scoring for the Irish was Walker’s 74 and Santos-Ocampo’s 76. Alan Lee carded a 77.
In addition to Fortner and Usher, junior Jeff Chen shot a 76 and freshman Paul McNamara shot a 77 playing as individuals. Also playing as individuals, senior Kyle Willis added a 79, junior Dustin Zhang carded an 80 and senior Olavo Batista notched an 83.
By winning the 2009 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic (Oct. 5-6 in Notre Daem, Ind.) and the 2010 Bandon Dunes Championship (March 11-12 in Bandon, Ore.) Notre Dame captured two tournament titles for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The Irish then added a dual match win over Detroit Mercy on April 14.