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Sandman returns to squad in 2009

Eric Prister | Saturday, August 22, 2009

After no first-place finishes and a fourth-place showing in the Big East tournament in the 2008-09 season, the Irish look to use the experience they gained last season on the road to a more successful 2009-10 campaign.

“Last year’s results were somewhat predictable given the timeline of our program and the loss of our best player and lone senior, Josh Sandman, before the season began,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “We had some growing pains but gained a great deal of experience. We’re going to build on those experiences and are looking forward to a great season this year.”

After missing all of last season because of an injury, Sandman will return for a fifth year with the school’s best career stroke average. In his junior season, he recorded two top-5 finishes and five top-10 finishes and was also named to both the PING All-Midwest Region team and the All-Big East team.

Sandman will be joined by senior Doug Fortner, who led the Irish last year with a 74.24 scoring average and has been named to the All-Big East team two years in a row. He also ended last season with a runner-up finish in the Big East tournament.

“[Fortner] is primed for a big year,” Kubinski said. “Given the experience he gained last season playing number one in our lineup and with the return of [Sandman] as a fifth-year senior, I feel we’ll have two number one type players in our lineup.”

Sophomore Max Scodro is another player in the Irish lineup looking to improve on a solid 2008-09 season this year. The only player to finish a tournament in first place – he tied for first place in the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship – Scodro finished the year with two top-5 finishes and four top-10 finishes and was named to the All-Big East team with Fortner.

“Max is another extremely talented player,” Kubinski said. “He has a great attitude and has shared some very lofty goals with me. With continued hard work, patience and his ever growing emotional maturity development, [Scodro] can become a top player nationally.”

Senior Carl Santos-Ocampo, juniors Dustin Zhang, Connor Alan-Lee and Jeff Chen and sophomore Chris Walker will each look to contribute this season for the Irish. Chen was second in scoring average for Notre Dame last season, and Santos-Ocampo and Zhang both recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur golf tournament.

The Irish will begin the season competing in tournaments hosted by Minnesota and Vanderbilt before returning home for the Fightin’ Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, where Kubinski promises his team will be ready to compete.

“We just came out flat [at the 2008 Fightin’ Irish Classic] and never recovered in that event. We won’t do that again. We’ll be fired up for our event this year. I guarantee it,” he said.