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Men’s Golf: Team finishes in 10th place

Michael Blasco | Wednesday, October 15, 2008

After opening the tournament with a 17-over par performance on Monday, sophomore Dustin Zhang fired two high-quality rounds for the Irish, carding a 1-under par 71 and a 4-under 68 Tuesday to put Notre Dame in 10th place at the Prestige at PGA West.

TCU claimed first place with a 3-under 861, while UC Davis’s Nate Pistacchio and the Horned Frogs’ Nathan De Beer took home co-medalist honors with 6-under 210s on the Greg Norman Course at PGA WEST, in La Quinta, Calif.

The Irish shot 301 and 293 in their final two rounds after Monday’s 307. Overall, they tallied a 37-over 901. The result was one of the strongest showings yet from a young Notre Dame squad that has struggled recently.

A horrific 17-over par first round offset Zhang’s 5-under performance in the final two rounds, and Zhang finished in a tie for 35th place overall. He collected 11 birdies against only six bogeys to finish the tournament after his high opening round.

Fellow sophomore Connor Alan-Lee matched his classmate’s performance, also tying for 35th place with a 12-over 228. Alan-Lee finished Monday’s rounds just 2-over par, but fired a 10-over 82 in his closing round.

Junior Doug Fortner, who has been the most consistent scorer for the Irish this season, shot a 13-over par 229 to finish in 38th place. Junior Carlos Santos-Ocampo’s 18-over 234 landed him in 71st place. Coming off his first collegiate tournament at last week’s Fighting Irish Gridiron Invitational, freshman Tom Usher finished in 73rd place, carding a 19-over 235.

For Notre Dame, the sophomore-led effort has been par for the course this season. The younger members of the Irish squad have posted strong scores throughout the season, leading the team in scoring several times so far. Kubinski said he has been happy with the way his underclassmen have stepped up and provided a lift when needed.

“With Josh [Sandman] out after surgery, we’re a senior-less team,” Kubinski said. “The sophomore class has four very talented players, for sure. None have a great deal of college experience, but our three sophomores are all capable of leading the way.”

Notre Dame will close out its fall schedule on Oct. 27th when it travels to the Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship.