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Men’s Golf: Kubinski optimistic for season

Fran Tolan | Thursday, August 24, 2006

With their lineup still uncertain, Irish head coach Jim Kubinski said Notre Dame has set high goals for the upcoming season.

Of the five players who will travel to tournaments, Kubinski said he has only decided on two so far. Nine players will be competing for the three remaining spots on Notre Dame’s traveling squad.

Senior Cole Isban and sophomore Josh Sandman are penciled in the top two spots, he said.

“Other than that, it’s pretty much up for grabs,” Kubinski said.

Earlier this week, Isban and Sandman traveled to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. to compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship. Both players struggled in the first of two stroke play rounds and neither advanced to match play. Sandman shot an 81 Monday but came back to fire a 75 in Tuesday’s second round.

“Josh made a very good comeback,” Kubinski said.

Isban, meanwhile, played tentatively in the first round before playing all of the second with the stomach flu.

“That was the worst round [Isban] has played in many, many years,” Kubinski said.

Isban entered the tournament with realistic expectations of finishing high on the leaderboard but instead missed the cut by 13 strokes.

The seniors do not, however, have much time to dwell on their showings at the U.S. Amateur.

“I’m sure they will both be very excited to get the season started,” Kubinski said.

Kubinski said that a “good goal” for his team is to finish in the national top 25. He will not, however, go as far as to predict such an outcome.

“With such a young team, I can’t have [the top 25] as my expectation,” he said. “But it’s definitely something we want to do every year.”

He said that he also hopes to win the Big East title for the fourth consecutive year.

The team features four freshmen, Olavo Batista Filho, Doug Fortner, Kyle Willis, and Carl Santos-Ocampo, who represent the largest class on a team that also features one sophomore, three juniors and three seniors.

The Irish will begin their season at the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn. Sept. 16.

Between now and then, Kubinski will be forced to set his five-man rotation.

“I am very excited to have all of the freshmen,” he said. “But, as a coach, my job isn’t too easy right now.”