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Irish face stiff competition

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 6, 2006

After closing out its last event – The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. – with a seventh-place finish, Notre Dame looks to maintain its momentum today in the first day of the CordeValle Collegiate in San Martin, Calif.

The CordeValle, hosted by No. 5 UCLA, features a strong 17-team field that includes No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Coastal Carolina, No. 9 USC, No. 15 Lamar and No. 24 TCU.

“The field is one of the strongest of the year,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said.

Despite the depth of the field, the Irish believe they can finish toward the top of the leaderboard.

“We know we can compete with any of these schools if we play our best,” senior co-captain Cole Isban said.

Kubinski agreed with his top golfer.

“We have built momentum with each event thus far and feel we’re ready to take on the best teams in the country,” he said.

At the Prestige, sophomore Josh Sandman and Isban finished in 10th and 14th place, respectively.

Senior co-captain Adam Gifford recorded a personal-best score of four-over par 220 for the tournament. All three will travel to the CordeValle.

Joining Isban, Sandman and Gifford at the CordeValle will be juniors Greg Rodgers, who closed out the Prestige by carding a solid final-round 75, and Eddie Peckels, who will compete as a member of the Irish top 5 for the first time this season. Through two rounds at the CordeValle last year, Peckels had one of the event’s top-10 individual scores.

“If we play well, you can’t really put limitations on our performance],” Isban said. “To finish in the top three or four would be a great accomplishment.”

But in order to achieve that goal, the Irish will have to play three solid rounds. At the Prestige, they sat in a tie for 13th place after the first round and were unable to recover, despite finishing with two solid rounds.

“We dug ourselves a hole early and that killed us,” Isban said of the last tournament.

With more consistent play this week, the Irish hope to come away with some key wins over ranked opponents.

“There are a lot of good teams out here,” Isban said. “It’s just a matter of whether we bring it all to the table.”