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Stellar round puts ND in contention

Fran Tolan | Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After finishing Sunday’s opening round in fourth place, Notre Dame mounted a charge and finished Monday with the second-best two-day score at the Big East championships in Louisville.

The Irish now trail only the host Cardinals heading into today’s final round.

Louisville has a team score of 14-under-par 562 – a mark 16 strokes ahead of the Irish.

“It’s always going to be a two-team race here,” Irish senior Cole Isban said. “They’ve just played better than us on their home course.”

Isban and fellow senior co-captain Adam Gifford led the comeback for Notre Dame, which overtook St. John’s and Marquette on the leaderboard Monday.

A day after tying his career-low round with a three-under-par 69, Gifford fired an even-par 72, leaving him tied for second in the individual standings, behind Louisville’s Daryl Fathauer.

Isban, meanwhile, rebounded after shooting a first-round 76 to card a four-under 68 and move into a tie for eighth place in the tournament.

Sophomore Josh Sandman continued his consistent play, notching a 74 Monday after shooting a 73 in the opening round. Sandman sits in a tie for 17th heading into today’s final round.

Junior Greg Rodgers and freshman Doug Fortner round out the field for the Irish, with respective two-day scores of 148 and 149.

Notre Dame is now six shots ahead of third-place Marquette, though the Irish are more concerned with Louisville. Despite the 16-shot deficit, Notre Dame thinks it has a shot to make up ground on the Cardinals before the final team scores are tallied today.

“We basically have to play match play with whoever we’re playing against from Louisville,” Isban said. “If we each beat our guy by four shots, then we have a shot.”

The Irish tee off for the final round in 10 minute intervals starting at 8 a.m.