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Men’s Golf: Freshman leads team to third place

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, October 9, 2007

On a team full of talent but short on experience, it was fitting that a freshman led the Irish to a third-place finish in the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic.

Notre Dame shot a four-under 284 in the final round Monday to vault past three teams in Durham, N.C., and take the bronze, thanks largely to huge contributions from freshman Tyler Hock, making his first road appearance. Hock shot a total of three-under 213 and tied for No. 11 in the 84-player field. After an opening-round 76, Hock fired rounds of 68 and 69 to play the final 36 holes in seven-under, helping the Irish make a run up the leaderboard.

The tournament title was shared by No. 13 Duke and unranked Tennessee-Chattanooga, who finished tied at 22-under. Finishing a stroke behind Notre Dame and tying for fourth were Virginia Tech and Ohio State, who finished at six-under 858.

“I’m so thrilled with the way our guys played this week,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “This is the kind of performance I’ve been expecting from them all season long, but it’s the first time we’ve really been able to put it all together.”

Junior Josh Sandman tied Hock for the lowest individual Notre Dame score at three-under. It was Sandman’s best performance this season. Senior captain Greg Rodgers also had a solid tournament for the Irish, tying for 15th at two-under par after a final-round 70.

“We came out very focused and got some very solid scores from one through four in the lineup,” Kubinski said. “That’s the kind of depth we’ve been looking for during the past year or so, and we’ll look to keep building on this the rest of the season.”

Sophomore Doug Fortner continued his exceptional play this season, taking his third top 20 finish in as many events. Fortner tied for 20th at one-over par, despite a tough finish Monday, when he bogeyed five of the final six holes.

Senior captain Eddie Peckels rounded out the Irish lineup, tying for 80th at 17-over.

Notre Dame opened the tournament with a first round of one under, placing the Irish in seventh. After dropping several places midway through the second round Sunday, Notre Dame rallied into sixth place by the end of the day. The Irish passed North Carolina-Wilmington and Eastern Carolina in the last four holes, and their hot play continued in a strong finish.

“We started to pick up momentum late in the second round and that carried over so well into the final round,” Kubinski said.

The Irish will take a two-week break from competition before playing in the Mason Rudolph Intercollegiate event from Oct. 21-23 in Tennessee.