Under the watchful eye of head coach Jim Kubinski, Notre Dame has been rated ninth in the '07-08 <i>Golf Digest</i> balanced rankings for athletic and academic excellence, according to the September issue of the magazine. <i>(photo by Steve Ritter)</i>

Men's Golf Adds Two More Prep Standouts For 2006-07 Season

July 13, 2006

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head men’s golf coach Jim Kubinski announced Thursday that Olavo Batista Filho (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Chapel HS) and Carl Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla./Community School of Naples) have received letters of admission and will enroll at the University in the fall of 2006 while beginning their athletic careers for the Irish. Batista Filho (pronounced FEEL-oh) and Santos-Ocampo (pronounced oh-CAM-poh) comprise the second half of Notre Dame’s incoming freshman men’s golf class, joining Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill HS) and Kyle Willis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest HS), who signed National Letters of Intent with the Irish last fall.

“We have great diversity within my first recruiting class when you consider we have an international player, a player from southern California, a player from Florida and a player from the Midwest,” Kubinski said. “Of course, each player has a diverse family background as well. That said, it’s striking how similar each of our incoming players is in regard to talent, academic achievement, golf results, work ethic and, most importantly, character. It’s a very impressive group. I’m looking forward to their arrival on the Notre Dame campus!”

Batista Filho will bring a wealth of junior experience to the Notre Dame lineup, having lived in both Florida and New York through his sophomore year of high school before returning to his native Brazil to complete his prep education. In the past five years alone, he has played in 29 junior tournaments, including 10 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events, posting 19 top-10 finishes and registering a 75.31 stroke average in that span. He has three junior titles and two runner-up placements to his credit, winning the Optimist International Junior Championship and Florida Junior Golf Association (FJGA) Easter Classic at the tender age of 13 in 2001, then returning to the winners circle in September 2002 when he hoisted the hardware at the Junior Champions Tour – Legends at Raptor Bay event.

During his 10 tournaments on the AJGA circuit, Batista Filho carded a 76.20 stroke average and placed in the top 20 on five occasions, most notably tying for sixth place in the Marsh Junior at Apawamis in July 2004. Meanwhile, in two years of high school competition in the United States, he enjoyed much success. As a freshman at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School, Batista Filho qualified individually for the Florida state high school championship. The following year as a sophomore at Bronxville (N.Y.) High School, he was an all-Lower Hudson Athletic Conference selection after winning the league title by 10 strokes and advancing to the New York state high school championship, where he finished as the Empire State’s prep runner-up.

Batista Filho also represented Brazil in the South American Junior Championship three times, helping his country win the team title in 2002 and 2003. Upon his return to South America full-time in 2005, he competed solely on the junior golf circuit as the sport is not offered in the Brazilian high school ranks. During his final prep season, Batista Filho competed in five junior tournaments, placing among the top 13 in all five events, including a tie for 10th place at the ’05 Brazilian Junior Amateur Championship. He is slated to play in two more tournaments before arriving at Notre Dame, including the 76th Brazilian Amateur Championship on July 20-23.

A National Honor Society member, Batista Filho was born on Feb. 12, 1988, in Luxembourg, and is the older of two children of Elaine and Olavo Batista. Hoping to major in business at Notre Dame, he will be just the eighth foreign-born player (third outside of North America) ever to play golf for the Irish, and first since the Kent brothers — Willie (1998-99) and Alex (1999-2001) — came from Asuncion, Paraguay, to be part of the Notre Dame lineup. Both Kent brothers still rank among the top 10 on the school’s career stroke average chart, with Willie currently fourth all-time (74.55) after transferring from Saint Louis University prior to the spring 1998 season, and Alex in seventh place with a 74.93 mark.

“Olavo came to my attention during his sophomore year of high school while living in New York and competing in the New York state high school championship,” Kubinski said. “Olavo has an impressive game. He’s a beautiful swinger of the club and has demonstrated strong character. I feel Olavo will make great contributions to our program. He may need time to re-acclimate himself to living in the States, but certainly has the talent to be very competitive right away.”

Santos-Ocampo comes to Notre Dame following a successful junior golf career that has seen him rise as high as 58th in the AJGA rankings during the past year. A veteran of the AJGA circuit, he has 13 career top-25 finishes on that tour, including a third-place showing at the 2005 AJGA Greater Hartford Jaycees Junior, and he has carded a 74.43 stroke average during the 2006 AJGA season. He also has logged victories at the 2005 Optimist International Tournament of Champions (firing a final-round 69 to win by a stroke), the 2002 Optimist International Junior Championship (closing with a third-round 67) and the 2002 Florida State Boys Junior Championship (age 13-15 division). Most recently, he earned a tie for sixth place last month at the AJGA First American Title Junior Classic and was chosen to receive the prestigious AJGA Bob Carter Sportsmanship Award for his play. He then took a share of 13th place at last weekend’s Florida State Boys Junior Championship (age 16-18 division).

A four-time all-county selection at the Community School of Naples (Fla.), Santos-Ocampo was team captain in each of his four prep seasons, earning a district championship in 2004, after moving to Naples prior to starting high school.

Like Batista Filho, Santos-Ocampo is a National Honor Society member. He was born on Oct. 21, 1987, in Providence, R.I., and is the older of two children of Joanna and Carlo Santos-Ocampo. While at Notre Dame, Santos-Ocampo aims to pursue a degree in pre-dentistry and will follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Justine Gamez, who will be a junior at Notre Dame this fall and is a member of the cheerleading squad. Santos-Ocampo also is slated to be the eighth Florida resident to join the Notre Dame men’s golf program, with 2006 graduate and two-time all-BIG EAST Conference honoree Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton) being the most recent Floridian to play for the Irish.

“Carl has played extremely well in the last year, garnering multiple top-10 finishes on the AJGA Tour,” Kubinski said. “He was recently announced as the AJGA’s Bob Carter Sportsmanship Award winner, and I’m very, very proud of Carl for earning this tremendous honor. He’s an extremely talented young man who shows great work ethic and great character. I look for Carl to make contributions immediately — and, in many ways, he already has. We’re looking forward to four exciting years with Carl in our program.”

The first two Notre Dame signees for the upcoming 2006-07 season have continued their junior tournament success during their final runs prior to entering the college loop. Fortner is currently 48th in the nation according to the Golfweek/Titleist rankings after moving up as high as 43rd, and he has logged a 72.85 rating through seven junior events this year. A U.S. Open sectional qualifier earlier this year, he also has finished among the top 20 in all three of his AJGA events with a 73.11 stroke average during the 2006 campaign, most recently collecting a tie for eighth place at last month’s Mission Hills Desert Junior. Meanwhile, Willis is coming off a tie for seventh at last month’s AJGA Midwest Junior Players Championship and has a 76.14 AJGA stroke average this year.

Notre Dame recently completed one of the best seasons in the program’s 77-year history, posting a school-record 292.97 team stroke average while earning its third consecutive BIG EAST title (sixth overall) and returning to the NCAA regionals for the third year in a row. The Irish also rose as high as 12th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index ratings last October and wound up defeating seven ranked opponents, including eventual NCAA runner-up Florida and NCAA third-place finisher Minnesota.

Notre Dame has four monogram winners returning for the 2006-07 season, led by two-time PING All-Midwest Region selection Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian), who enters his senior season as the school’s career stroke average leader (74.10). Although the complete schedule is still awaiting approval from the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics, the Irish are tentatively slated to open their season Sept. 16-17 at Minnesota’s Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn. Last year, Notre Dame also teed off its campaign at that tournament, finishing fifth in the 12-team field.

— ND —