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Men’s Golf: Freshman leads Irish at Purdue

Joe Quinn | Monday, April 10, 2006

Notre Dame coach Jim Kubinski hoped that inserting freshman Josh Sandman into the lineup would add a spark his team. This weekend, Sandman – playing in his second tournament of the spring – did just that, finishing in a tie for second to lift Notre Dame to a third place finish in the 12-team Boilermaker Invitational.

Sandman, who shot a four-over 220 (77-74-69), equaled the best finish by an Irish freshman since current senior tri-captain Scott Gustafson finished second at the 2003 Big East Championships.

His final round 69 also equaled a freshman record set by current sophomore Greg Rogers last spring at the Windon Memorial Classic.

Kubinski was extremely pleased with the play of his young freshman.

“I can’t imagine anyone played better than Josh this weekend,” Kubinski said. “Tee to green, Josh was outstanding this week.

“He missed a few putts that he could have made, and if he hadn’t, we’d be talking about him shooting a 67.”

Sandman, however, was not the only Irish player to finish amongst the top-two. He was joined by junior tri-captain Cole Isban, who carded a final round 74 to finish eight strokes off the lead.

“Josh and Cole were the two best ball strikers out there this weekend,” Kubinski said.

While Isban’s card lacked the great single round score of Sandman, his consistent play allowed him to finish near the top of the leaderboard. Similar to Sandman, however, Isban – who was without a birdie Sunday until the 16th hole – struggled on the green.

“He was around the hole all day, just never in,” Kubinski said. “He was like Tiger [Woods in The Masters Sunday.] The shot making was there, but he just needed to make a few of those putts.”

As a team, this was Notre Dame’s best finish since placing first in the one-round Big East Championships last spring.

In addition to placing third, the Irish were also able to add No. 16 Minnesota and No. 23 Northwestern to their list of top-25 teams defeated this year. Including the two this weekend, Notre Dame has now beaten six Golfweek top-25 teams this year, three in the last two weeks, alone.

More importantly for the Irish was finishing ahead of new Big East rival Louisville. The Cardinals finished in fourth place – five strokes behind the Irish.

“Beating Louisville was the best part of the weekend,” Kubinski said. “They are going to be our top competition for the Big East Championship, so it was nice to finish better than them.”

Notre Dame will have the Easter break to recuperate before they begin the defense of its Big East conference championship April 23-25. The two-time defending champions will try to add to the five league titles they’ve won since joining the conference in 1995.