July 29, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame rising senior and two-time all-Midwest Region selection Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS) and sophomore-to-be Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford HS) both were successful this week in qualifying for the 106th U.S. Amateur Championship, to be held Aug. 21-27 at famed Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. It will mark Isban’s third consecutive appearance in the U.S. Amateur, while Sandman heads to the prestigious United States Golf Association (USGA) event for the first time. Their efforts highlight what has been a run of strong summer performances by the three-time defending BIG EAST Conference champion Notre Dame men’s golf team.
Isban tied for second place in his U.S. Amateur qualifier last Monday (July 24) at the Fort Wayne Country Club, firing a two-under par 140 to end up one stroke behind medalist Randy Nichols and earn one of the three automatic berths into the Championship. He returns to the U.S. Amateur after visits in 2004 (finished two strokes off cut line for advancement to match play after 36 holes of stroke play) and 2005 (missed match play cut by four shots despite carding second-round 69). Meanwhile, Sandman booked his first-ever trip to the nation’s premier amateur event on Thursday (July 27) with his third-place finish in the 116-man qualifier at the Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. Sandman was tied for the lead after the first round with an opening 66 before finishing at seven-under par 137 (66-71) for the two-day event, ending up as one of five players from that site to automatically qualify.
Rising Notre Dame senior Adam Gifford (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth HS) also could be in the mix for a spot at the U.S. Amateur, having qualified as the first alternate from the Redford, Mich., sectional on Tuesday (July 25) at the Western Golf and Country Club. Gifford tied for fourth place in the 63-man field with an even-par 140, one stroke shy of being among the top three players to garner automatic qualifying placement. The Irish veteran then defeated Michael King in a playoff to earn the top alternate position.
“I’m very proud of the way all three guys played in their U.S. Amateur qualifiers,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “We had three automatic qualifiers and two alternates last year and it looks like we’re well on the way to meeting or exceeding those numbers this year. Cole has been close to making the match play cut the past two summers and I believe he’s poised for a breakthrough this year. Josh is such a cool competitor and has big-time tournament experience under his belt, with his play in the BIG EAST Championship playoff and last summer’s North & South Amateur right at the top of the list. So, even though this will be his first trip to the U.S. Amateur, I don’t see any reason why he can’t make the cut as well. In addition, Adam has been on the verge of breaking into our starting lineup several times, and this showing at the qualifier is even more proof of the contributions he has made and will continue to make for our program.”
Isban and Gifford also are among a group of six current or former Notre Dame golfers who will turn their attention to the 104th Western Amateur Championship, which takes place next Wednesday through Sunday (Aug. 2-6) at Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. Isban and rising juniors Mike King (Sidney, Ohio/Sidney HS) and Eddie Peckels (Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.) HS) all have earned exemptions into the main tournament field, while Gifford, junior-to-be Greg Rodgers (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul’s School) and current Irish assistant coach (and former player) Steve Colnitis will look to advance to the main tournament field through an 18-hole qualifier on Monday (July 31) at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course.
Last year, three of five Notre Dame golfers made the 36-hole cut (top 50 golfers) at the Western Amateur, as Isban and recent graduates Mark Baldwin and Scott Gustafson also remained in contention. Isban went on to advance to the 16-man match play tree with a 13th-place finish in the four-round qualifier (283, +3) before falling in the first round of match play to Randy Lowry, 5 & 3.
“The Western Am will once again be exciting for us,” Kubinski said. “We had five players compete last year and already have three players entered through various exemptions for this year. I’d love to see us match our five 2005 competitors this time around in `06 through qualifying here at The Warren on Monday. The event is such a great test. Having watched Cole play so well there last season gives me reason to believe he may have an opportunity to win it this year. Obviously time will tell, but I’m certainly looking forward to a continued impact at the Western Am by Notre Dame golfers.
“We’re also excited to once again be hosting the Western Amateur qualifier here at The Warren Golf Course,” Kubinski added. “It’s such a prestigious event and certainly hosting a qualifier for so many top players allows us to show off what I feel is one of the great golf courses in the country. Our course has been selected by Golf Digest for their top `places to play’ list and has hosted so many great events since opening in 2000. We’ve already hosted an NCAA Central Regional, several BIG EAST Championships, a U.S. Amateur qualifier and, of course, multiple Western Amateur qualifiers, so there’s no question it’s a championship-caliber layout.”
In addition to their play in U.S. Amateur qualifiers and their upcoming appearances in the Western Amateur, Notre Dame golfers have been quite busy this summer. Here’s a look at how some of the current and future Irish players have done to date:
Doug Fortner (Fr., Tustin, Calif./Foothill HS)
Shared medalist honors (two-under par 69) in U.S. Open local qualifier at Newport Beach (Calif.) Country Club … finished among top-16 in all three of his American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) summer ’06 tourneys to date — tie-eighth (74-72-72=218, +2) in the Mission Hills Desert Junior at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., tie-14th (74-71-72=217, +4) in the Heather Farr Classic at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., and tie-16th (77-71-75=223, +7) in the Pacific Northwest International Junior at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting in Port Orchard, Wash. … will play in U.S. Amateur qualifier on Aug. 7 at South Hills Country Club in West Covina, Calif.
Adam Gifford (Sr., Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.) HS)
First alternate for U.S. Amateur Championship following tie for fourth place (140, E) in sectional qualifier at Western Golf & Country Club in Redford, Mich. … will play in Western Amateur qualifier Monday at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course for spot in main tourney field (Aug. 2-6 in Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Cole Isban (Sr., South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS)
Earned third consecutive berth in U.S. Amateur Championship with tie for second place (140, -2) in qualifier at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Country Club … tied for sixth (71-67=138, -6) in U.S. Open sectional qualifier at St. Charles (Ill.) Country Club; finished four shots out of final qualifying spot for U.S. Open (PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker was the sectional medalist and wound up tied for sixth at U.S. Open, three strokes behind champion Geoff Ogilvy) … claimed medalist honors (two-under par 70) in U.S. Open local qualifier at South Bend Country Club … tied for 13th at Dogwood Invitational with eight-under par 280 (67-72-73-68) at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta … shared 16th-place honors at The Players Amateur with 10-under par 274 (70-70-68-66) at Belfair Golf Club in Bluffton, S.C. … placed 27th in Monroe Invitational with 10-over par 290 (68-76-74-72) at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y. … has earned exemption into field for Western Amateur (Aug. 2-6 in Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Mike King (Jr., Sidney, Ohio/Sidney HS)
Tied for 10th place at Mid-Ohio Invitational with five-under par 139 (69-70) at Hickory Flat Greens in West Lafayette, Ohio … tied for 20th place (73-71=144, +4) in U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier at Dayton (Ohio) Country Club … has earned exemption into field for Western Amateur (Aug. 2-6 in Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Eddie Peckels (Jr., Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.) HS)
Placed 43rd (73-78=151, +7) in U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. … has earned exemption into field for Western Amateur (Aug. 2-6 in Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Greg Rodgers (Jr., Phoenix, Md./St. Paul’s School)
Reached semifinals of match play at Maryland State Amateur before falling to eventual champion Jeff Castle on the 20th hole; had shot 71 in stroke play qualifying, followed by 70 in the opening match play round and later 68 in the regulation portion of his semifinal match play loss to Castle … tied for 30th place (72-81=153, +11) in U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier at Piney Branch Golf Club in Hampstead, Md. … will play in Western Amateur qualifier Monday at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course for spot in main tourney field (Aug. 2-6 in Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Josh Sandman (So., Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford HS)
Earned first career berth in U.S. Amateur Championship with third-place finish (66-71=137, -7) in qualifier at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C.; was five strokes shy of medalist honors.
Carl Santos Ocampo (Fr., Naples, Fla./Community School of Naples)
Has four top-25 finishes to his credit on AJGA circuit this summer … tied for sixth (75-67-77=219, +6) in First American Title Junior Classic at TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz, Fla. … placed 16th (76-73-74=223, +7) in Craig Ranch Junior at TPC of Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas … tied for 18th (77-71-73=221, +5) in Mirasol Junior Championship at The Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. … tied for 24th (73-76-74=223, +10) in Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan Resort in Braselton, Ga. …also tied for 11th place (74-71-72=217, +1) in Florida Junior Tour (FJT) Boys Junior Championship at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla.
Shane Sigsbee (Sr., McKinney, Texas/McKinney HS)
Will play in U.S. Amateur qualifier on Aug. 7 at Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater, N.J.
Kyle Willis (Fr., Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest HS)
Tied for seventh (75-73-74=222, +6) in AJGA Midwest Junior Player Championship at Twin Orchard Country Club in Long Grove, Ill. … will play in U.S. Amateur qualifier on Monday at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton, Ind.
— ND —