April 6, 2007

Tournament Notes in PDF Format
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After spending the first half of the spring season in the southern half of the country, Notre Dame comes back to its home state this weekend, heading to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Boilermaker Invitational on the Purdue campus. The Irish have played one of the nation’s top 50 schedules this year, and have posted a 294.81 stroke average as they aim to build up their resume for a fourth consecutive NCAA regional berth.

The Purdue tournament gives Notre Dame a golden opportunity to enhance their status within the Midwest District, with 10 of the other 14 in this weekend’s field coming from that region.

Quoting Coach Kubinski …
“Playing at Purdue always presents a challenge, and this year should be no exception. The course is long and demanding, and then you mix in the potential for some difficult weather conditions. It’s going to test our players from the opening tee shot to the final putt and we must have a sharp mental approach in order to be successful.

“We’ve made some progress in our last couple of events, but each time, we’ve hit a stretch of holes in the middle of our round that have held us back. If we can do a better job of managing the course and attacking it smartly, we have a good chance of being in contention on Sunday.”

Dates and Times
Teams will play two rounds (36 holes) on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. (ET) with a shotgun start to the first round. The second round will get underway immediately following the conclusion of the opening round. Teams then will return to the course for Sunday’s final round, starting at 8 a.m. (ET) with pre-assigned tee times based upon the 36-hole standings. All times and formats are tentative and subject to change.

Following The Irish
There will be no in-progress scoring from the Boilermaker Invitational. However, 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).

New this year is the Irish ALERT system, which provides fans with regular updates on Notre Dame’s progress at the Boilermaker Invitational through text messages sent right to their cell phone. For more information or to register for this free service, click here.

The Tournament Format
A total of 15 five-man teams (75 participants, plus the possibility of some additional golfers competing on an individual basis) will be taking part in the Boilermaker 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 Purdue, the remaining teams in the field for the Boilermaker Invitational are: Auburn, Baylor, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Toledo, Washington and Wisconsin.

According to the latest edition of the Golf World/Nike Top 25 coaches poll (released Wednesday), one ranked team — No. 24 Auburn — will be competing in this weekend’s tournament. Yet, six other participating squads are receiving votes in the latest coaches’ balloting — Notre Dame (nine votes, tie-32nd), Wisconsin (nine votes, tie-32nd), Baylor (eight votes, tie-34th), Indiana (eight votes, tie-34th), Michigan State (one vote, tie-39th) and Washington (one vote, tie-39th).

Meanwhile, Monday’s updated ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index show that seven of the top 50 teams will be on hand for the Boilermaker Invitational. On top is No. 28 Auburn, followed by No. 31 Baylor, No. 32 Wisconsin, No. 33 Washington and No. 37 Northwestern. Michigan State (No. 44) and Purdue (No. 49) round out the top 50 teams in this week’s field, with Indiana (54th) and Notre Dame (57th) just off the first page of the rankings.

In addition, the most recent Golfstat rankings (unveiled Wednesday) indicate seven of this week’s participants appearing in that service’s Top 50. No. 29 Wisconsin is the pacesetter, just nosing out 30th-ranked Auburn, No. 31 Washington and 34th-ranked Baylor. No. 42 Northwestern, No. 44 Michigan State and 50th-ranked Indiana also will be in the mix at the Boilermaker Invitational.

Notre Dame has faced 12 of the other 14 schools competing in the Boilermaker Invitational this season, amassing a combined 4-10 (.286) record against those clubs. The Irish record vs. the field breaks down this way: Auburn (0-1), Baylor (1-1), Illinois (1-0), Indiana (0-1), Michigan (0-1), Michigan State (0-1), Northwestern (0-2), Ohio State (0-1), Oklahoma (1-0), Purdue (0-1), Washington (0-1) and Wisconsin (1-0).

It should also be noted that, like Notre Dame, 10 of the other 14 teams in this week’s field are based in the Midwest District, with the Irish going 4-9 (.308) against the district this season. The NCAA Men’s Golf Championship Selection Committee allocates a minimum number of selections for each of the country’s nine districts for NCAA regional play, with the Midwest given at least six berths in the regionals.

The Course
The Boilermaker Invitational will be played on the Kampen Course (par 72/7,382 yards) at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. The Pete Dye-designed layout opened on June 28, 1998, and has played host to numerous championship-level tournaments, including the 2004 NCAA Men’s Golf Central Regional (whose field included Notre Dame), 2003 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship and 2001 NCAA Women’s Golf Central Regional. It’s also slated to be the site of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship.

A History Lesson
Notre Dame will be making its 23rd appearance at a tournament hosted by Purdue (and second in as many years) when the Irish participate in this weekend’s Boilermaker Invitational. The best finish for Notre Dame in 22 prior visits to West Lafayette came back in 1979, when head coach Noel O’Sullivan’s charges won the Purdue Invitational title and Tim Saurs took home medalist honors after carding a two-round total of 141.

Tournament Rewind: ’06 Boilermaker Invitational
Notre Dame fired the second-best round of the day, closing with a five-over par 293 to lock up a solid third-place finish at the 2006 Boilermaker Invitational, which was contested on the Kampen Course (par 72/7,083 yards) at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. The Irish completed the two-day event with a score of 36-over par 900 (307-300-293), winding up 18 shots behind tournament champion Indiana, and only four strokes back of second-place Purdue. The bronze-medal placement is the best for Notre Dame at a tourney hosted by Purdue since 1988, when the Irish had a similar third-place showing in a smaller eight-team field.

Cole Isban and Josh Sandman each collected a share of second place, despite varying final-round results. Isban came into the day two shots off the lead, but couldn’t make up any ground and ended up with a four-over par 220 (74-72-74), still earning his second top-five finish of the year and sixth of his career. Meanwhile, Sandman charged hard from back in the pack with the second-best score of the day, a final-round 69, to match Isban’s 220 total (77-74-69). Sandman’s 69 was the lowest round by an Irish freshman since Greg Rodgers shot a similar score at the 2004 Windon Memorial Classic, while Sandman’s runner-up finish is the best by a Notre Dame rookie since Scott Gustafson placed second at the 2003 BIG EAST Conference Championship.

Gustafson ended up tied for 30th place with a 15-over par 231 (80-76-75). Mark Baldwin was among a five-way tie in 38th place at 17-over par 233 (80-78-75), while Adam Gifford wrapped up his tournament in a 50th-place deadlock at 21-over par 237 (76-83-78).

Last Time Out: Administaff Augusta State Invitational
Notre Dame wrapped up play at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational on April 1, finishing the day where it started in 17th place with a three-round total of 19-over par 883 (294-300-289) at the Champions Retreat Golf Club (par 72/7,265 yards) in Evans, Ga. The Irish did move four shots ahead of No. 31 Minnesota (a fellow Midwest District member) in the final team standings, adding an important feather in its postseason cap.

Senior co-captain Adam Gifford came up with his second top-10 finish in the past three events, tying for eighth place in the 90-man field at two-under par 214 (71-74-69). He now has dipped below par in five of his last nine rounds, with his latest total just one off his career-low 54-hole score, which he set in the Triumph at Pauma Valley on March 12-13.

Senior All-America candidate Cole Isban tied for 37th place at three-over par 219 (73-72-74). Sophomore Josh Sandman was two shots back in a tie for 49th place at five-over 221 (72-77-72), while freshman Doug Fortner shared 82nd place at 13-over par 229 (78-77-74). Junior Eddie Peckels completed the scoring in a tie for 88th place at 25-over par 241 (80-84-77).

Three Tournaments, Three Aces For Irish
It would be difficult to script a much better start than Notre Dame freshmen Doug Fortner and Carl Santos-Ocampo experienced this fall. Between them, the two Irish rookies fired three aces in their first three tournaments, including matching holes-in-one in their respective college debuts 10 days apart.

Fortner was the first to card a “single” on Sept. 16 in the second round of the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn., pulling out a pitching wedge and sinking his tee shot on the par-3, 139-yard 17th hole at the Spring Hill Golf Club. Not to be outdone, Santos-Ocampo made his mark in the final round of the John Dallio Memorial (a “B” team event for the Irish) in West Chicago, Ill., using a 7-iron to bury his tee shot on the par-3, 175-yard third hole at the Prairie Landing Golf Club.

Santos-Ocampo was at it again on Oct. 10 in the final round of the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic. Playing into a stiff breeze, the diminutive Notre Dame freshman took an 8-iron to the tee of the par-3, fourth hole at the Warren Golf Course and promptly buried his 136-yard tee shot.

Both Fortner and Santos-Ocampo were featured in the Oct. 30 edition of Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” for their accomplishment, which is believed to be the first of its kind in NCAA Division I history.

Other Things You Should Know About The Irish
* Notre Dame is the three-time defending BIG EAST Conference champion (and three-time NCAA regional qualifier), winning the 2006 BIG EAST title with a dramatic 12-stroke comeback (second-largest in school and league history) in the final round to defeat Louisville on the first playoff hole. The Irish joined St. John’s as the only programs in the 26-year history of the BIG EAST Championship to win three consecutive titles on two separate occasions. The Irish recorded their first hat trick from 1995-97, while St. John’s posted a pair of “four-peats” from 1981-84 and 1986-89.
* Senior Cole Isban is a prime candidate to become Notre Dame’s first All-American since 1980 (John Lundgren – honorable mention), coming off consecutive selections to the PING All-Midwest Region Team. Isban owns the school’s single-season stroke average record and is second in career stroke average at Notre Dame (see chart on page 3), has qualified for the last three U.S. Amateur Championships, and is ranked 66th in the latest Golfweek individual rankings (as of Monday).

Next Up: Kepler Intercollegiate (April 14-15)
Notre Dame gets one final chance to tune up its game before the BIG EAST Championship when it travels to Columbus, Ohio, for the Kepler Intercollegiate, to be played on the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State Golf Club. The Irish will be making their first appearance in the tournament since 2003, when they tied for 13th place in the 18-team field at 936 (+72).