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 Tied For Third After First Round Of BIG EAST Championship

April 20, 2008

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HEBRON, Ky. — Junior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) is tied for second place at one-under par 71, helping Notre Dame into a tie for third place after the first round of the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Championship, which began Sunday at the Traditions Golf Club (par 72/7,103 yards) in Hebron, Ky.

As a team, the Irish carded an opening-round score of 296 (+8) and share third place with defending conference champion Louisville. Marquette holds the first-round lead at 291 (+3), while Seton Hall is in second place at 294 (+6).

“While we gave a few shots back late in the round, I like where we are at this point in the tournament,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “It was our goal to get off to a good solid start and stay in contention through the first two rounds and so far, we’ve done that. As folks at any level of golf will say, `you can’t win the tournament on the first day, but you can definitely lose it’ and we didn’t do anything to hurt our chances with the way we played today.”

After making the turn at one-over par 37, Sandman sparkled on the back nine, carding three birdies with only a lone bogey on No. 8 (his 17th hole) marring an otherwise solid recovery. Sandman is one of four golfers to fire an opening-round 71, along with Keegan Bradley of St. John’s, Cory Blenkush of DePaul and John Zur of Seton Hall. Marquette’s Ted Gray is the overnight leader after posting a four-under par 68 on Sunday.

Sophomore Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) also is in the top 10 after the first round, starting the tournament with a one-over par 73 to tie for 10th place. Fortner actually was positioned for even greater things on Sunday, when his third birdie on the back nine at No. 7 (his 16th hole) left the second-year standout at two-under for the day. However, Fortner closed the round with a bogey and double bogey on his final two holes, dropping him back into the black.

Senior tri-captain Greg Rodgers (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul’s School) was the team leader through nine holes at even-par, and even dipped into the red with an eagle-2 on No. 1 (his 10th hole). Yet, Rodgers’ round took a sour turn down the stretch, as he bogeyed five of his last seven holes, including his final three greens of the day. The Irish veteran currently stands tied for 21st place with an opening-round 75 (+3).

Dustin Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) is the seventh Notre Dame freshman in as many years to start the BIG EAST Championship, and early on things looked promising, as he made the turn at one-over par 37. But, a critical two-hole stretch that saw a bogey at No. 2 (his 11th hole) and then a double bogey at No. 3 (his 12th hole) proved to be Zhang’s undoing, as the Irish rookie is tied for 39th place at five-over par 77.

Senior tri-captain Eddie Peckels (Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.)) also is making his BIG EAST tournament debut and struggled at times, finishing with a first-day score of 80 (+8) that has him tied for 49th place in the 60-man field.

Notre Dame will start early on Monday, going out at 8 a.m. ET in 10-minute intervals from the first tee with golfers from Georgetown and Villanova in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship. Live in-progress scoring (every nine holes) is available on the Golfstat web site (www.golfstat.com) and full results will be posted on the official BIG EAST Championship web site (www.bigeast.org) and the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com) 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, 2008 • Hebron, Ky.
Traditions Golf Club (par 72/7,103 yards)

TEAM SCORES (18-hole totals): 1. Marquette 291; 2. Seton Hall 294; 3. (tie) NOTRE DAME 296 and Louisville 296; 5. St. John’s 300; 6. (tie) Cincinnati 301 and Connecticut 301; 8. (tie) DePaul 302 and Georgetown 302; 10. South Florida 304; 11. Villanova 305; 12. Rutgers 307.

TOP FIVE INDIVIDUALS PLUS NOTRE DAME GOLFERS (of 60): 1. Ted Gray (MU) 68; 2. (tie) Josh Sandman (ND) 71, Keegan Bradley (STJ) 71, Cory Blenkush (DPU) 71 and John Zur (SHU) 71; 10. (tie) Doug Fortner (ND) 73; 21. (tie) Greg Rodgers (ND) 75; 39. (tie) Dustin Zhang (ND) 77; 49. (tie) Eddie Peckels (ND) 80.