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Split squads both finish well in first weekend

Michael Bryan | Monday, September 17, 2007

Notre Dame began its season with two impressive performances this weekend, finishing in a tie for fourth at the Gopher Invitational and second at the Rutgers Invitational.

Notre Dame teed off at Spring Hill Golf Club Saturday for the first two rounds of the Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota. The Irish started strong, shooting rounds of 294 (+6) and 291 (+3), good enough for third place. The team trailed leader Lamar University by nine shots entering the final round, and was just two strokes behind second-place Wisconsin.

The Irish struggled under tougher conditions Sunday, however, shooting a final round 306 (+18) to finish tied for fourth. Leading the team was senior captain Greg Rodgers (69-74-76), whose 3-over par total tied him for seventh individually. Second among the Irish was sophomore Doug Fortner (76-76-74), whose consistent play earned him a tie for 20th.

Freshman Connor Alan-Lee (74-70-80) provided a spark for the Irish in his collegiate debut, and was tied for ninth overall at even par after the first two rounds. Alan-Lee’s final round 80 dropped him into a tie for 26th.

Junior Josh Sandman (79-73-80), who averaged a score of 73.91 last season for the Irish, finished last of the Notre Dame golfers in a tie for 39th. Senior Eddie Peckels (75-80-76) finished tied for 37th of 60 competitors.

Lamar University, No. 16 in the Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll, took first place of the twelve teams with a total of 868 (+4). Arkansas and Wisconsin tied for second with scores of 890, and Indiana and Notre Dame tied for fourth with marks of 891. The top individual players were Lamar’s Casey Clendenon and Wisconsin’s Danny Zimmerman, who each shot one-under totals of 215.

While half of the Irish team competed in Minnesota, the Notre Dame B Team traveled to New Jersey for the Rutgers Invitational. The team finished second out of eighteen teams in the event with an eighteen-over par 870. The University of South Carolina-Upstate defeated the Irish by 15 shots to take first place.

The B Team was led by freshmen Jeff Chen and Dustin Zhang, who each shot six-over totals of 219 to finish in a three-way tie for eighth. Sophomore Olavo Batista finished one shot behind the freshman tandem with a score of 220, tied for 11th.

Sophomores Carl Santos-Ocampo and Kyle Willis shot totals of 222 and 225, good for ties at 18th and 32nd places respectively. Only six strokes separated the first and last Irish players in a very strong team performance.

Next up for Notre Dame is the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic, hosted at the Warren Golf Course Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

No members of the team or coaching staff were available for comment following the tournament.