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MEN’S GOLF: Linksters place 17th in loaded Augusta field

Chris Doyen | Monday, April 2, 2007

In a battle of 10 teams in the top 50 nationally, Notre Dame could not overcome the behemoths in the field of 18 teams in the Administaff Augusta State Invitational, finishing in 17th place.

Notre Dame’s final score of a 20-over-par 884 put them 31 strokes behind first-place No. 11 Coastal Carolina. Other national powerhouses in the field included No. 13 East Tennessee State, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 17 North Carolina and No. 29 Georgia State, who all placed in the top six and finished at par or lower.

“We didn’t get it together like we had hoped to,” senior co-captain and All-America candidate Cole Isban said. “You’ve got to expect those other teams to perform like they did, but we didn’t have our best games.”

The Irish struggled in the second round especially, scoring a 12-over-par 300 Saturday.

Before the tournament, Isban predicted that putting would be the most important aspect for Notre Dame’s success, and it was his personal undoing for the weekend as he finished with a four-over-par 220.

“I couldn’t make a put to save my life,” Isban said. “But a couple other guys putted pretty well. Ijavascript:autoSummary(); hit about 16 or 17 greens in regulation, but I had a number of three-putts [on Sunday].”

The team’s performance was good enough, however, to place ahead of one of the participating top-50 programs, No. 28 Minnesota. Irish senior co-captain Adam Gifford, who only recently started traveling with the team, finished tied for eighth with a team-low two-under-par 214.

His three-under-par 69 Sunday helped the Irish finish the day at a respectable two-over-par 290. Gifford was the only Irish golfer to finish in the top-40 on the individual leaderboard.

“[Gifford] played probably the best tournament of his career,” Isban said. “His game is really coming around.”

The lineup for the weekend also included sophomore Josh Sandman, freshman Doug Fortner and junior Eddie Peckels. Sandman finished with a five-over-par 221, Fortner shot a 13-over-par 229 and Peckels contributed a 25-over-par 241.

Next weekend, the Irish head to Purdue to participate in the Boilermaker Invitational.