April 4, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
9 a.m. (ET) — 36 holes continuous play
Warren Golf Course (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Par 70/6,930 yards
Notre Dame Plays Host To Irish Invitational On Saturday
Notre Dame will have one final chance to tune up before the BIG EAST Championship when it plays host to the Irish Invitational on Saturday at the Warren Golf Course. The one-day, 36-hole tournament is the first regular-season spring event hosted by Notre Dame since 2005 and revives a tradition that began with the advent of stroke play tournaments in 1967-68.
Junior Josh Sandman (73.28) is among the hottest players in the BIG EAST, if not the nation, heading into this weekend’s tournament. Sandman has placed in the top 10 in his last three events, the first Irish player to pull off that feat in more than eight years. As a team, Notre Dame is shooting 295.96 this season with a pair of top-five finishes to its credit.
Quoting Coach Kubinski…
“It’s always exciting to host an event on our historic campus here at Notre Dame. Whenever you walk down a fairway at the Warren Golf Course and see our Golden Dome shining in the distance, you can’t help but feel the spirit. I look for our lineup to play with great determination on Saturday. We’d like to build some momentum for the BIG EAST Championship.
“Josh (Sandman) is coming off a string of three consecutive top-10 finishes and playing very well. He’ll set the tone at the top for us. Doug Fortner has played his best golf of the spring over his last four rounds and plays very well here. Carl (Santos-Ocampo) has played consistently for us and is gaining confidence with each event. Dustin (Zhang) played a very solid 36 holes in Tucson and is a very capable young player. Mike King will round out our lineup in his final regular season event for us. I think he’ll be inspired by the opportunity and give us a low round or two.”
Dates and Times
The tournament is a one-day, 36-hole event, featuring continuous play throughout the day. The first round will tee off at 9 a.m. (ET) with a shotgun start, with the Irish starting five scheduled to begin on holes 1-4 at the Warren Golf Course. The remaining Notre Dame players (who will compete as individuals) are slated to begin on the back side of the course at holes 15-18.
Following The Irish
There will be no live scoring for Saturday’s tournament. However, complete results will be posted on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (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).
Furthermore, results will be available via the Irish ALERT text-message system, which provides fans with regular updates on Notre Dame’s progress at the Irish Invitational through text messages sent to their cell phone. For more information or to sign up, visit the men’s golf page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (UND.com).
The Tournament Format
A total of nine five-man teams (45 participants, plus 14 additional golfers from the competing schools who will be playing on an individual basis) will be taking part in the Irish 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.
Besides tournament host Notre Dame, the remaining schools in the nine-team field for the Irish Invitational are: Bucknell, Cleveland State, Columbia, George Washington, IPFW, Northwestern, Pennsylvania and Youngstown State.
Monday’s ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index show that the highest ranked teams in the field will be Northwestern (65th) and Notre Dame (74th). The Wildcats and Irish also are the leaders among this week’s field in Wednesday’s new Golfstat rankings, with Northwestern standing 61st and Notre Dame at No. 77.
It’s a completely new field for Notre Dame this weekend, as the Irish have not played any of the other eight teams this year. For the season, Notre Dame is 44-71-6 (.388) against Division I varsity opponents, with a 7-49-2 (.138) record against Golfweek Top 50 clubs (2-27-2 vs. the Top 25).
A par-70, 7,023-yard layout designed by PGA Tour veteran (and 2002 World Golf Hall of Famer) Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus is based on a traditional walkable Irish and American courses favored around the turn of the 20th century. The course winds its way through 250 wooded acres and is based on subtleties rather than special effects, including small, undulating greens and 88 strategically-placed bunkers which were recently renovated as part of a course-wide improvement project.
The Warren Golf Course has been rated one of the nation’s top 15 collegiate courses by Golf Digest (Sept. 2005 issue) and has played host to several championship events. Among the more notable tournaments to be played at the course since its debut seven years ago are: the 2005 NCAA Central Regional, two U.S. Amateur sectional qualifiers (2004, 2007), three Western Amateur qualifiers (2005-07), five BIG EAST Conference Men’s Golf Championships (2000, 2002-05) and three BIG EAST Women’s Championships (2003-05).
Noting The Irish Invitational
- Saturday’s tournament is a revival of Notre Dame’s spring competition that was held annually from 1968-73, as well as in 1980 and 2005.
- The 2005 Irish Invitational was the only one held off-campus, taking place in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., at the Mission Inn Resort (Campeon Course). Wichita State won the tournament at 885 (+21), four shots clear of Colorado State, with Notre Dame tying for fourth place at 919 (+31).
- As a rookie in 2005, current senior tri-captain Greg Rodgers led Notre Dame with a 14th-place tie at the Irish Invitational, carding a 12-over par 228 (76-75-77). Classmates and fellow captains Eddie Peckels (t-56th, 77-83-84=244) and Mike King (t-68th, 79-78-90=247) also competed that weekend as individual participants.
- Notre Dame won three of the first four Irish Invitationals (1968, 1970, 1971), was the tournament runner-up in 1969 and 1972, and took fourth place in 1973 and 2005. Records for the 1980 tournament are incomplete.
- The Irish Invitational is the first regularly-scheduled 36-hole tournament for Notre Dame since Oct. 20-21, 2003, when the Irish placed second at The Tillinghast (hosted by St. John’s). Notre Dame did play in a pair of weather-shortened 36-hole tournaments last season — the Boilermaker Invitational (hosted by Purdue) and the Kepler Intercollegiate (hosted by Ohio State).
- Due to regular course maintenance, the yardage for Saturday’s tournament will be slightly shorter (6,930 yards) than the normally-listed yardage of 7,023 yards for the Warren Golf Course.
- Freshman Dustin Zhang (Calgary, Alberta) cracked the Notre Dame starting lineup for the first time in his career on March 23-25 at the National Invitational Tournament. Zhang is the first foreign-born player to crack the Notre Dame lineup since April 28-29, 2001, when Alex Kent (Asuncion, Paraguay) wrapped up his career at the BIG EAST Conference Championship in East Providence, R.I.
Last Time Out: National Invitational Tournament
Junior Josh Sandman posted his third consecutive top-10 individual finish, helping Notre Dame tie for 10th place at the National Invitational Tournament, which concluded March 25 at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club (par 72/7,330 yards) in Tucson, Ariz. The Irish carded their best score of the spring season at 19-over par 883 (296-291-296), tying with Tulsa in the 15-team event, which was won by TCU at 854.
Sandman tied for 10th place on the individual ladder at two-under par 214 (71-71-72), becoming the first Notre Dame golfer in eight years to register three consecutive top-10 finishes. Steve Ratay was the last to pull off that feat, doing so during the final three tournaments of the fall 1999 season at the Legends of Indiana (1st), Xavier Invitational (tie-5th) and Louisville Intercollegiate (2nd).
During his current three-tournament run, Sandman has fired an average score of 71.78, ending up tied for third at the USC Collegiate Invitational (220), and tied for sixth at the Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational (career-low 212) prior to his 10th-place tie at the NIT. Tulsa’s Nicolas Geyger, Kent State’s David Markle and Houston’s Ben Moser shared medalist honors at eight-under par 208 atop the 81-man field.
Sophomore Doug Fortner moved up 10 spots on the final day of action, sharing 34th place at five-over par 221 (75-74-72) to log his best 54-hole score of the spring. Sophomore Carl Santos-Ocampo and freshman Dustin Zhang tied for 48th place at eight-over par 224 — Santos-Ocampo shot rounds of 76, 74 and 74, while Zhang wavered a bit in his final round, winding up with scores of 74, 72 and 78. Senior tri-captain Eddie Peckels rounded out the Irish scoring in 71st place at 16-over par 232 (77-75-80) in his first spring event.
Notre Dame has gotten a significant boost from its underclassmen, with five of its six lowest scorers being either freshmen or sophomores. Freshman Jeff Chen (73.67), who has played exclusively as an individual or “B” team member, ranks second on the squad behind junior Josh Sandman (73.28), while sophomore Doug Fortner (73.80) has teamed with Sandman to form the cornerstone of the Irish varsity squad. Sophomores Kyle Willis (75.08) and Carl Santos-Ocampo (75.28), and freshman Tyler Hock (75.79) also have contributed on the Notre Dame travel squad.
Notre Dame’s three seniors have been selected as team captains for the 2007-08 season. Mike King, Eddie Peckels and Greg Rodgers all are serving in that capacity for the first time in their careers.
The .500 Rule
According to a new rule passed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee, teams must finish with a winning head-to-head record (i.e. better than .500) against Division I varsity opposition to be considered for a berth in postseason play. Notre Dame currently has a 44-71-6 (.388) record this season.
Things You Should Know About The Irish
- Notre Dame has won six BIG EAST Conference titles in its 12-year league affiliation, stringing together three consecutive crowns from 1995-97 and again from 2004-06. The Irish also have made 33 NCAA postseason appearances in their history (most recently in 2006 with a trip to the NCAA East Regional), winning the 1944 national title and finishing second in 1937.
- Notre Dame has taken its play to new levels in recent years, posting three of the top seven single-season stroke averages in school history since head coach Jim Kubinski took over as head coach in January 2005. The Irish also have carded nine of the top 12 tournament scores (54 holes) in program history during the Kubinski era, including a school-record 842 (-22) at the 2006 BIG EAST Championship.
- Notre Dame’s impressive resurgence of late has been augmented by its play against nationally-ranked opponents. In fact, since Kubinski arrived under the Golden Dome, the Irish have defeated 15 Top 25 teams (according to Golfweek) and posted 14 top-five tournament finishes, including three event titles (most recently the ’06 BIG EAST Championship).
- 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: BIG EAST Championship (April 20-22)
Notre Dame will look to regain its place atop the BIG EAST Conference when it takes part in the BIG EAST Championship April 20-22 at the Traditions Golf Club in Hebron, Ky. (located outside Cincinnati). The Irish have won six league titles (most recently in 2006), and finished second to Louisville a year ago.
— ND —