Doug Fortner paced the Irish at the FAU Spring Break Championship, finishing in a tie for second place with a three-day 209 (-4) score.

Irish Remain In Third Place Through Two Rounds Of BIG EAST Championship

April 21, 2008

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HEBRON, Ky. — The Notre Dame men’s golf team held steady in both the team and individual standings after Monday’s second round of the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Championship at the Traditions Golf Club (par 72/7,103 yards) in Hebron, Ky. The Irish remain where they started the day, tied for third place in the 12-team field at 15-over par 591 (296-295). Marquette is still the tournament leader at 579 (+3), while Louisville is in second place at 590 (+14), one stroke ahead of Notre Dame and Seton Hall.

Junior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) kept his grip on a share of second place after Monday’s second round, carding an even-par 72 and posting a 36-hole score of 143 (-1). Sandman and Keegan Bradley of St. John’s are seven shots behind tournament leader Ted Gray of Marquette, who shot his second consecutive round of 68 (-4) on the way to the third-lowest two-round score in tournament history.

“Today was, in some ways, similar to the first round, only in reverse,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “We started off struggling on the front side, which was the same side of the course we had problems with yesterday. But then we bounced back and played some solid golf coming home and really salvaged a decent score to stay in contention. We’re going to need to make a move tomorrow, but given our history of success in the final round during the past two years, we definitely have that kind of surge in us.”

In 2006, Notre Dame was in third place entering the third round, trailing Louisville by 12 shots and Marquette by seven strokes before shooting a school-record 272 (-16) and ultimately winning the BIG EAST title on the first sudden-death playoff hole with Louisville. Last year, the Irish shot a final-round 278 (-10), the third-lowest single-round score in school history and finished second behind UofL.

Sandman started slowly, making three consecutive bogeys on holes 3-5. He came back with a pair of birdies, but another bogey on No. 8 left him two shots in the black at the turn. He erased that margin and got back to level-par for the day with birdies on No. 12 and No. 15, positioning himself for a fifth consecutive top-10 finish (something that hasn’t been done by an Irish golfer since at least 1980 — program records are incomplete prior to that season).

Sophomore Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) is just outside the cutoff point for all-BIG EAST honors (top 10 plus ties), currently sharing 11th place at four-over par 148 (73-75). Fortner was even through seven holes before a double-bogey at No. 8 had him battling from behind. He gave up another shot on holes 13-14, but got one back (and perhaps built some positive momentum for Tuesday) with a beautiful birdie chip-in on No. 17.

Freshman Dustin Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) is tied for 31st place at eight-over par 152 (77-75) after matching Fortner’s effort on Monday. The Irish rookie had a rollercoaster day, starting off with two bogeys, followed by two birdies, before bogeys at No. 5 and No. 7 had him on the wrong side of the ledger. Zhang did get a birdie back at No. 15, but another bogey on the 18th hole cancelled that out.

Senior tri-captain Eddie Peckels (Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.)) was the big mover on Monday for Notre Dame, climbing 10 spots to a tie for 39th place at nine-over par 153 (80-73). Peckels’ one-over par score in the second round was highlighted by six birdies, including four in a five-hole span on the front side. His card would have been even better if not for one bad hole (No. 4), where the Irish veteran took a quadruple-bogey 9.

Senior tri-captain Greg Rodgers (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul’s School) dipped to a 44th-place tie at 12-over par 156 (75-81) following a difficult second round. Rodgers bogeyed four of his first six holes, then suffered consecutive double bogeys at the turn on holes 9-10 that forced him to battle from behind.

Notre Dame has been assigned the early tee times once again on Tuesday, as Rodgers will lead the Irish out at 8 a.m. ET from the first tee along with golfers from St. John’s and South Florida in the third and final round of the BIG EAST Championship. The remaining players will follow in reverse order of their tournament standings at 10-minute intervals, with the most intriguing pairing coming at 8:40 a.m. when Sandman and Bradley will set out together in pursuit of BIG EAST medalist honors.

Live in-progress scoring (every nine holes) is available on the Golfstat web site ( and full results will be posted on the official BIG EAST Championship web site ( and the official Notre Dame athletics web site ( at the conclusion of the day’s competition, as well as on the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000).

— ND —

BIG EAST Championship
April 20-21, 2008 • Hebron, Ky.
Traditions Golf Club (par 72/7,103 yards)

TEAM SCORES (36-hole totals): 1. Marquette 579 (291-288); 2. Louisville 590 (296-294); 3. (tie) NOTRE DAME 591 (296-295) and Seton Hall 591 (294-297); 5. St. John’s 600 (300-300); 6. (tie) South Florida 602 (304-298) and DePaul 602 (302-300); 8. (tie) Villanova 603 (305-298) and Cincinnati 603 (301-302); 10. Connecticut 604 (301-303); 11. Georgetown 610 (302-308); 12. Rutgers 616 (307-309).

TOP FOUR INDIVIDUALS PLUS NOTRE DAME GOLFERS (of 60): 1. Ted Gray (MU) 136 (68-68); 2. (tie) Josh Sandman (ND) 143 (71-72) and Keegan Bradley (STJ) 143 (71-72); 4. Mike Bielawski (MU) 145 (72-73); 11. (tie) Doug Fortner (ND) 148 (73-75); 31. (tie) Dustin Zhang (ND) 152 (77-75); 39. (tie) Eddie Peckels (ND) 153 (80-73); 44. (tie) Greg Rodgers (ND) 156 (75-81).