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Irish make late push in second round

Michael Bryan | Monday, October 8, 2007

A late charge Sunday led the Irish into sixth place in the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic. Notre Dame passed two teams in the last few holes to finish three-under through two rounds.

The Irish shot a one-under par total of 287 in the first round, putting them in seventh out of the fifteen-team field midway through the day. The team then passed North Carolina Wilmington and Eastern Carolina with several birdies in the last four holes of a two-under second round.

Leading the Duke Classic, which ends today, are the No. 13 host Blue Devils, who are ahead of Tennessee-Chattanooga by two strokes and enter the final round at 16-under. Filling out the rest of the top five are Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion.

The Buckeyes finished the second round at ten-under, leading the fourth place Hokies by a single shot. Old Dominion finished at seven-under and leads Notre Dame by four shots.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski said he hoped to move up in the final round.

“For NCAA standings, a top-five finish would be very good,” Kubinski said.

Scores were low at the par-72 Duke Golf Club, as good conditions and fair distances for the tees allowed players to take advantage with solid iron play and putting. Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Jonathan Hodge leads all players individually with a total of eight-under. Duke teammates Michael Schachner and Adam Long are in second and third place with scores of seven and six-under.

Irish sophomore Doug Fortner continued his hot play, leading Notre Dame with rounds of 70 and 71. Fortner, who is tied for 10th individually at three-under, is coming off a second-place finish at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic – the best of his career.

“Doug is going to be a special player for us,” Kubinski said. “He has a great deal of talent and just has to put the work in.”

Three Notre Dame golfers are at even-par in a tie for 23rd place. The most surprising of the group is freshman Tyler Hock, who is starting in his first collegiate tournament. Hock, a powerful driver off the tee, followed up a four-over par first round with an impressive 68.

“Tyler is a very talented young player,” Kubinski said. “He has great imagination for a player his age. He will be a great contributor for us.”

Joining Hock at even-par are senior Greg Rodgers and junior Josh Sandman, who both had impressive starts to the event. Rodgers shot a two-under 70 and Sandman a one-under 71 in the first round, but each tallied a few bogeys in the second round to return to even par.

Senior Eddie Peckels had the toughest day of the Irish players, shooting rounds of 77 and 79. Peckels is tied for 80th at 12-over.

The Irish will start the third and final round today in Durham with tee times beginning at 8:30 a.m.