Notre Dame fifth-year all-region captain Josh Sandman will lead the Fighting Irish into a challenging fall 2009 schedule, which gets underway Sept. 14-15 at the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn.

Sandman Named Individual Qualifier For NCAA Central Regional

May 5, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) has been chosen as one of six individuals who will compete in the 2008 NCAA Central Regional, it was announced Monday evening by the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee. Sandman is the first Notre Dame golfer to earn an individual berth to NCAA regional competition, with the NCAA Central Regional to be held May 15-17 at The Ohio State University Scarlet Course (par 71/7,455 yards) in Columbus, Ohio.

“I’m excited to go and represent the team and the University at regionals,” Sandman said. “Obviously, there are some mixed emotions because my teammates won’t be out there on the course with me. But, this is a great opportunity to build momentum going into next year and I’m confident that if I play my game, I can compete with anyone out there.”

“We’re thrilled to have Josh join the elite field competing in Columbus,” Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said. “Of course, as a program, it’s pretty special to have a player earn the right to compete for a national championship. It’s something Josh has worked very hard for.”

A total of 27 teams and six individuals were chosen to compete in each of three NCAA regionals around the country, with Chris Baker (Iowa State), Clayton Rask (Minnesota), Victor Almstrom (Minnesota), Brent Long (Western Kentucky) and Jordan Weber (Northern Iowa) joining Sandman as individual participants in the NCAA Central Regional. After playing three days (18 holes per day), the top 10 teams and two individuals not on advancing squads will move on to the NCAA Championship finals, which will be hosted by Purdue May 28-31 on the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.

Sandman currently leads Notre Dame with a 73.10 stroke average this season, the fourth-lowest mark in school history. He also is riding a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes, which is the longest by an Irish golfer since at least 1980 (records are incomplete prior to that point), and he has posted a superb 72.41 stroke average during the spring season. Standing 70th in the nation according to Monday’s new Golfstat individual rankings, Sandman has shot par or better in eight of his last 10 rounds, and carded rounds of 73 or lower in 12 of his last 14 rounds. He capped off that run with his second consecutive all-BIG EAST Conference honor, tying for seventh place (220, +4) at the BIG EAST Championship on April 22 in Hebron, Ky.

Sandman will be making his second trip to the NCAA regionals in the past three years, having competed with his Notre Dame teammates in the 2006 NCAA East Regional at the Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. That weekend, he carded the second-best finish among Irish golfers, tying for 59th place in the 141-man regional field at nine-over par 225 (75-77-73).

Sandman also has played at The Scarlet Course once before, competing in the 2007 Kepler Intercollegiate, hosted by Ohio State. The tournament was shortened to two rounds by poor weather, with Sandman tying for 40th place in the 90-man field at 15-over par 157 (78-79).

“This is the kind of course where I’ll have to be very patient and grind it out,” Sandman said. “Scores will not be low, I can almost guarantee that. The condition of the course is going to be tough because it’s the NCAAs and they always make things more challenging. I understand that things very well could go wrong at some point and I just have to be able to deal with those setbacks the right way.”

“One nice factor is he’ll be playing in far different conditions than we experienced last year,” Kubinski noted. “That was some of the worst weather I’ve ever seen on a golf course. We had freezing rain coming down and wind chills in the low 20’s. It’ll be nice to watch Josh in reasonable to good conditions. It’s a heck of a test but his game is strong enough to handle any course right now.

“The key will be to drive the ball well,” he added. “I’m assuming OSU will have the rough up. It’s a really long course from the tips. A good driving week will allow a player to better control the ball into the greens. Par will be a heck of a score at Scarlet. The player who accepts that and has the patience to play to it will do well.”

Notre Dame has made 33 NCAA postseason appearances in its history, with the most recent coming in 2006, when the Irish finished 17th at the ’06 NCAA East Regional in Orlando. Notre Dame also won the 1944 national title and finished second in 1937. The best finish by an Irish individual in NCAA Championship competition (or its precursor, the National Collegiate Championship) occurred in 1933, when Johnny Banks tied for first place under a match play format.

— ND —