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Men’s Golf: Irish finish ninth at Gopher Invite

Fran Tolan | Monday, September 18, 2006

At the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn., harsh weather conditions proved to be at least as formidable an opponent for the Irish as the 11 other teams competing in the event this weekend.

Notre Dame finished ninth in the 12-team field as Stanford ended five shots ahead of host Minnesota to win the tournament in windy conditions.

“[The result] is not what we were hoping for,” senior co-captain Cole Isban said. “We really struggled and I think we let the tough conditions get to us a little.”

After a difficult first round Saturday in which the team carded a 313, the Irish bounced back to fire an impressive 295 later in the day.

“After the second round, we were right [in contention],” Isban said.

The squad headed into Sunday in seventh place and stayed in that slot until the 13th hole. The Irish were overtaken by both Northwestern and Ohio State in the last six holes of play.

“I was very disappointed, especially because we had a chance to finish where we wanted to,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said.

On the last hole, four of the five Irish golfers recorded bogeys to cap off the poor finish. As a result, the team finished three shots behind Northwestern and two worse than Ohio State.

The windy conditions were largely to blame for the dearth of individual scores that exceeded par. Notre Dame’s top two golfers, Isban and sophomore Josh Sandman, each finished with an 11-over par 227 and ended up in a four-way tie for 19th place. The other three players, senior Adam Gifford, junior Mike King, and freshman Doug Fortner each struggled at points throughout the tournament.

“We really need a couple guys to step into the third and fourth golfer roles on this team,” Kubinski said.

Freshman Doug Fortner made his first hole-in-one in competition and just the second of his life Saturday en route to a team-best score of 71.

“That was great to see,” Kubinski said.

The Irish will be in action again October 9-10, when they host the inaugural Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic at the Warren Golf Course.