March 10, 2007
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Triumph At Pauma Valley
Monday-Tuesday, March 12-13, 2007
8:30 a.m. (PT) both days
Pauma Valley Country Club
Pauma Valley, Calif.
Par 71/7,077 yards
Irish Tee Off Spring Break Trip In San Diego Sunshine
After a nearly three-week layoff, Notre Dame will get its 2007 spring season cranked up in earnest this week with an ambitious Spring Break trip that features two tournaments nearly 1,500 miles apart in a six-day span. The Irish will get things going Monday and Tuesday when they take part in the inaugural Triumph at Pauma Valley, hosted by San Francisco at the Pauma Valley Golf Club in suburban San Diego.
Notre Dame last took the course on Feb. 18-20, when it tied for 13th place at the 16th annual John Hayt Collegiate Invitational (formerly the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The Irish battled through difficult weather conditions in the first two rounds, not to mention an off-season worth of rust, before coming back with a solid final round to rise up two spots in the tournament standings. The event is widely considered one of the premier stops on the collegiate golf circuit, and this year’s tournament featured 10 of the top 50 teams in the nation. Senior All-America candidate Cole Isban was Notre Dame’s top individual finisher, ending up in a tie for 22nd place at nine-over par 225.
Quoting Coach Kubinski …
“I’m excited about the fact that we’ll have an opportunity to experience a degree of lineup consistency. At the very least, we’ll have begun the spring season with the same five at Sawgrass, Pauma Valley and in Laredo. The guys are a pretty tight group. That should lead to a greater comfort level out on the course.
“While we’re again playing against several teams from warm weather climates, I think we’ll show well. I like the way we’ve been practicing. I thought we finished off the event at Sawgrass with a solid final round, which should give us added confidence and certainly a bit of momentum. We may or may not start slowly but I’m confident we’ll play better golf with each day. I’ve felt all along that this team can be very, very competitive at the national level as the season progresses.
“Our younger players only need opportunities to gain experience. Three of those players will have these opportunities through our events at Pauma Valley and in Laredo. We have our team goal clearly in mind. Right now, though, we’re just focusing on improving each day, having patience and enjoying the opportunity each of these great events offer.”
Dates and Times
Teams will play two rounds (36 holes) on Monday at 8:30 a.m. PT (11:30 a.m. ET), going off via a shotgun start. Teams then will return to the course Tuesday for the third and final round, which also will feature a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. PT. All times and formats are tentative and subject to change.
Following The Irish
Live in-progress scoring from the Triumph at Pauma Valley will be provided through the Golfstat web site (www.golfstat.com). In addition, complete results following each day’s action at the Triumph at Pauma Valley 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 in the Triumph at Pauma Valley through text messages sent right to their cell phone. For more information or to register for this free service, visit the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.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 Triumph at Pauma Valley. 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 Notre Dame and tournament host San Francisco (which will field ‘A’ and ‘B’ squads), the remaining teams in the field for the Triumph at Pauma Valley are: Air Force, Cal Poly, Cal State-Monterey Bay, Campbell, Hartford, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, San Diego, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s (Calif.), UC Santa Barbara, Weber State and Wisconsin.
According to the latest edition of the Golf World/Nike Top 25 coaches poll (released Feb. 23), one team appearing in that survey – Notre Dame – is competing in this week’s tournament. The Irish received five votes, putting them in 35th place if the poll were extended.
Meanwhile, the March 4 ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index show that six of the top 100 teams will be on hand for the Triumph at Pauma Valley. Leading the way is No. 32 Wisconsin, followed by No. 56 Notre Dame, No. 58 UC Santa Barbara and No. 70 Campbell. Also on the first two pages of the Golfweek ratings are No. 88 San Diego and No. 93 Saint Mary’s (Calif.).
In addition, the most recent Golfstat rankings (unveiled March 7) indicate six of this week’s participants appearing in that service’s Top 100. No. 29 Wisconsin sets the bar, with No. 58 Notre Dame, No. 70 UC Santa Barbara, No. 79 San Diego, No. 83 Campbell and No. 97 Saint Mary’s (Calif.) rounding out the top 100 teams in the field.
Notre Dame has faced two of the other 14 schools competing in the Triumph at Pauma Valley this season, amassing a combined 2-0 (1.000) record against those clubs. The Irish defeated San Diego by 31 shots at The Prestige at PGA WEST on Oct. 16-17, and topped Santa Clara by two strokes at the CordeValle Collegiate on Nov. 6-7.
This week’s tournament will be the first intercollegiate event held at the prestigious Pauma Valley Country Club, located in the mountains approximately one hour northeast of San Diego. A Robert Trent Jones, Sr., signature golf course that is limited to just over 200 members, Pauma Valley is set at the foot of Palomar Mountain, and it’s as scenic as it is challenging. Considered by many to be one of the finest layouts in southern California, Pauma Valley was for many years listed in Golf Digest’s Top 50 and in the 1980s, it was the home of televised events featuring Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Mike Souchak.
Freshman Doug Fortner will experience a homecoming this weekend, as the Tustin, Calif., plays about 90 minutes southeast of his hometown. Fortner was ranked among the top 50 players in the nation (and top 25 seniors) during his final prep campaign at Foothill High School. He also was a four-time California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) individual tournament qualifier, and also was a four-time first-team all-SeaView League selection while playing at Foothill.
Fortner will be making his fifth appearance in the Notre Dame lineup this week, and second in as many spring tournaments. He has a 77.75 stroke average, with a season-best finish of 27th place (228, +18) at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic on Oct. 9-10.
Last Time Out: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational
After taking a couple of days to shake off the winter rust, the Notre Dame men’s golf team looked more like its old self on Feb. 20, shooting a final-round 295 and jumping up to finish in a 13th-place tie at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, which was played at the Sawgrass Golf Club/Oceanside East-West Course (par 72/6,985 yards) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The Irish wound up carding a three-round total of 56-over par 920 (311-314-295), matching Augusta State in the final standings – No. 5 Alabama won the team title at 881 (+17).
Senior All-America candidate Cole Isban had a solid final round and rose up to a 22nd-place tie at nine-over par 225 (76-76-73). Classmate and co-captain Adam Gifford had the low round of the day for the Irish on Tuesday, as his third-round 72 pushed him into a 48th-place tie at 15-over par 231 (77-82-72). Junior Eddie Peckels was two strokes behind Gifford at 17-over par 233 (78-81-74), while freshman Doug Fortner and sophomore Josh Sandman completed the tournament tied for 69th place at 21-over par 237.
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 last 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.
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.
- Notre Dame’s impressive resurgence of late has been augmented by its play against nationally-ranked opponents. In fact, since Jim Kubinski took over as head coach in January 2005, the Irish have toppled 13 Top 25 teams (according to Golfweek), including seven last season.
- 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 and career stroke average (see chart on page 3), has qualified for the last three U.S. Amateur Championships, and is ranked 64th in the latest Golfweek individual rankings (as of March 4).
- 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: Border Olympics (March 16-17)
Following the Triumph at Pauma Valley, Notre Dame will head directly to Laredo, Texas, for the 56th annual Border Olympics at the Laredo Country Club. It will be the second consecutive year in which the Irish will visit Laredo as the back half of their Spring Break trip, following an eighth-place showing at last year’s tournament. This season, the field includes such notable teams as Arkansas, Baylor, Memphis, Vanderbilt and Washington State.