May 13, 2008
NCAA Central Regional
Thursday-Saturday, May 15-17, 2008
7 a.m. (ET) each day
Ohio State Scarlet Course
Par 71/7,419 yards
Sandman Totes Banner For Irish In NCAA Central Regional
Already in the midst of one of the finest individual stretches of golf in school history, Notre Dame junior Josh Sandman will look to etch his name even further in the Irish record books when he tees off in the 2008 NCAA Central Regional, which takes place Thursday-Saturday at the Ohio State Scarlet Course (par 71/7,419 yards) in Columbus, Ohio. Sandman is the first Notre Dame golfer ever chosen as an individual qualifier for regional play, and can become the first Irish competitor in 42 years to make the NCAA finals if he is one of the top two individual finishers (not on a Top 10 team) at this week’s regional.
Sandman has strung together a run of five consecutive Top 10 finishes, which is the best by a Notre Dame golfer since at least 1980 (records are incomplete prior to that time). The Greensboro, N.C., native (and two-time all-BIG EAST Conference honoree) has a 73.10 stroke average this season, which is fourth-best in school history, and has been especially strong down the stretch with a 71.93 mark during his current five-event hot streak.
Quoting Coach Kubinski…
“We’re thrilled to have Josh join the elite field competing in Columbus. 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.
“One nice factor is he’ll be playing in far different conditions than we experienced last year. 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. 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.”
Dates and Times
Teams and individual competitors will play single rounds (18 holes) each day, using a split-tee start for all three rounds. Notre Dame junior Josh Sandman will be paired with two other individuals — Chris Baker of Iowa State and Clayton Rask of Minnesota — for the first two rounds, starting Thursday on the 10th tee at 1:23 p.m. (ET) and Friday on the No. 1 tee at 9:02 a.m. (ET).
Pairings and tee times for the final round on Saturday will be based upon the 36-hole standings. All six individual golfers will start from the 10th tee, with the No. 1-3 individuals going at 8:53 a.m. (ET), followed by the No. 4-6 individuals at 9:02 a.m. (ET).
Following The Irish
Live in-progress scoring from the NCAA Central Regional will be available through the Golfstat web site (www.golfstat.com). In addition, complete results following each day’s action 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 NCAA Central Regional through text messages sent to their cell phone. For more information or to sign up, visit the men’s golf page at UND.com.
The Tournament Format
A total of 141 individuals (27 five-man teams plus six selected individuals, including Notre Dame junior Josh Sandman) will be taking part in the NCAA Central Regional. 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. The top 10 teams will move on to the NCAA Championship finals (May 28-31 in West Lafayette, Ind.), along with the top two individuals not on advancing squads.
The schools in the 27-team field for the NCAA Central Regional are (in order of seeding): Alabama, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Florida, Tennessee, Lamar, Wake Forest, Indiana, Texas A&M, Louisville, Wichita State, Kent State, Penn State, Arkansas, Michigan, TCU, Texas-Arlington, Illinois, Ohio State, Baylor, Colorado, Eastern Kentucky, Marquette, Eastern Michigan, Cleveland State, Loyola (Md.) and Sacred Heart.
In addition, the six individuals for this week’s Central Regional are (in order of seeding): Chris Baker (Iowa State), Clayton Rask (Minnesota), Josh Sandman (Notre Dame), Victor Almstrom (Minnesota), Brent Long (Western Kentucky) and Jordan Weber (Northern Iowa).
The NCAA Central Regional will be played on the Ohio State Scarlet Course (par 71/7,419 yards) in Columbus, Ohio. The on-campus layout was designed by Alistar McKenzie and Perry Maxwell in 1938 and underwent a significant restoration in 2005-06 under the watchful eye of golf legend (and OSU alum) Jack Nicklaus. The changes focused on returning the course to its original layout, including bunker modifications and extending its length to more than 7,400 yards, while also changing it to a par-71 course. The Scarlet Course is considered to be among the premier on-campus college courses in the nation, and has played host to numerous national championships, both at the NCAA and USGA levels.
Junior Josh Sandman will be playing on the Scarlet Course for the second time in as many years. At the weather-shortened OSU Kepler Intercollegiate on April 14-15, 2007, Sandman tied for 40th place in the 90-man field at 15-over par 157 (78-79).
Notre Dame At The NCAA Regionals
Junior Josh Sandman becomes the first Notre Dame golfer to be selected as an individual participant for NCAA regional play since the format was instituted in 1989.
The Irish have made three regional appearances as a team, all coming from 2004-06. The first two of those berths came at the Central Regional — in 2004 at Purdue’s Kampen Course, Notre Dame finished 12th at 50-over par 914 (four shots off the cutline) and in 2005 (at home on the Warren Golf Course), the Irish tied for 13th at 37-over par 877 (two strokes out of a playoff to advance to the NCAA finals). Most recently in 2006, Notre Dame placed 17th at the NCAA East Regional in Orlando (897, +33), ending 13 shots off the cutline.
The closest an Irish individual golfer has come to advancement during that three-year span was 2004, when Eric Deutsch (226, +10) wound up four shots out of the second individual NCAA finals berth from the Central Regional. Deutsch (220, +10) was six strokes back in 2005, while Cole Isban (224, +8) was 10 shots away from moving on in 2006.
Notre Dame has competed in postseason play as a team 33 times, having won the NCAA title in 1944 at the famed Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio (also site of the 2009 NCAA Championship). In addition, the Irish were the NCAA runner-up in 1937, while placing third on four occasions (1931, 1932, 1936, 1951) and among the top 10 at the NCAA finals a total of 19 times (most recently in 1964, when they were fourth at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs).
The best finish for a Notre Dame individual in postseason action occurred in 1933, when Johnny Banks tied for medalist honors during a match-play format at the Buffalo (N.Y.) Country Club. The tournament was then known as the National Collegiate Championship, with the NCAA first sponsoring the event in 1937.
Since that sponsorship began, two Irish golfers made the match-play semifinals — Tom Veech (1949 at Veeneker Golf Course in Ames, Iowa) and Tom Matey (1951 at the Ohio State Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio). Once stroke play was used to determine the NCAA medalist, the best Notre Dame individual finish came in 1966 at the Stanford Golf Course, when Rian McNally tied for 19th place with a two-round total of 148.
Last Time Out: BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame finished fourth at the BIG EAST Championship on April 22 at the Traditions Golf Club (par 72/7,103 yards) in Hebron, Ky. The Irish carded a three-round total of 25-over par 889 (296-295-298), marking the fifth-lowest BIG EAST score in school history. Notre Dame also fielded two all-conference selections, the sixth time in the past seven years the Irish have had multiple all-BIG EAST honorees.
Sophomore Doug Fortner earned his first career all-conference citation after finishing tied for fourth place at three-over par 219 (73-75-71). Fortner birdied the ninth hole in the final round and made that stand up the rest of the way. Marquette’s Ted Gray led wire-to-wire in capturing medalist honors at 211 (-5), three strokes better than Keegan Bradley of St. John’s. The top 10 finishers (plus ties) at the BIG EAST Championship receive all-conference honors.
Junior Josh Sandman stumbled a bit in his final round, but still earned his second consecutive all-BIG EAST certificate (and fifth consecutive top-10 finish) after tying for seventh place at four-over par 220 (71-72-77). Sandman, who is the first Irish golfer since at least 1980 to record five top-10 finishes in a row, birdied his second hole in the third round, but followed with a triple bogey at No. 3, and after a birdie on the fourth, he took a double bogey at No. 6 and a bogey at No. 8 that left him battling back the remainder of the day.
Freshman Dustin Zhang showed good improvement throughout his first BIG EAST Championship, peaking with a final-round 72 that left him tied for 18th place at eight-over par 224 (77-75-72). Zhang should be one of the future standouts for the Irish, having carded a 74.64 stroke average during the spring season.
Two of Notre Dame senior tri-captains — Eddie Peckels and Greg Rodgers — saw their college careers come to an end at the BIG EAST tournament. Rodgers finished in a tie for 44th place at 18-over par 234 (75-81-78), while Peckels wound up in 49th place at 19-over par 235 (80-73-82) in his first trip to the BIG EAST Championship.
Rodgers finished his career with a 76.36 stroke average in 31 tournaments (87 rounds), with his best finish being a tie for fourth place at last fall’s Gopher Invitational. Meanwhile, Peckels ended his tenure under the Golden Dome with a 75.78 stroke average in 22 career tournaments (63 rounds) and earned medalist honors at the Irish Invitational last month.
Things You Should Know About The Irish
- Notre Dame has made 33 NCAA postseason appearances in its history (most recently in 2006 with a trip to the NCAA East Regional), while winning the 1944 national championship 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 16 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 notable instructors as Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and Rick Smith.
Next Up: NCAA Championship (May 28-31)
Should he finish as one of the top two individuals (not on an advancing team) in this week’s NCAA Central Regional field, junior Josh Sandman would move on to the NCAA Championship finals, to be held May 28-31 on the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. Sandman also would be Notre Dame’s first NCAA finals competitor since the Irish played as a team at the 1966 tournament (before regional play existed).
— ND —