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Men’s Golf: Irish putts lipping out in Florida

Pete Reisenauer | Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Josh Sandman was five inches away from moving his team four spots up in the standings Monday at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

But the junior shot a 73 on the day with a few tantalizingly close bogeys.

Those bogeys, according to coach Jim Kubinski, would have given Sandman a 68 on the day and catapulted his team up in the standings from its current No. 15 position.

Sandman’s 73 was “better than the average on the day,” Kubinski said. The junior’s close misses gave his coach hope for Tuesday’s final-round action.

“We are within six shots of a half-dozen teams,” Kubinski said.

Kubinski was impressed with how his team performed this weekend – its first tournament of the spring season – after having limited practice at home due to weather conditions. He noted that there was only one other northern team at the tournament this weekend – Indiana.

“Given where we are at this point in the season, I think we are doing a nice job,” Kubinski said. “The guys are competing against all warm climate teams down here, and are just trying to get the rust out of their games. We have had a couple of high rounds that have hurt us, but I have overall been impressed with how they have performed so far.”

When asked what his team needs to do to improve over the long run, Kubinski said Notre Dame needs more tournament experience.

“I think it is just a matter of getting a few rounds under our belts,” Kubinski said. “With one or two tournaments, I think we will be ready to compete at a high level after spring break, in Arizona [at the National Invitational Tournament March 23-25] and Georgia [Schenkel E-Z Go Invitational March 14-16].”

Sophomore Doug Fortner, who leads the Irish this season with a 72.77 stroke average, also shot a 73, with two eagles on the day. He is at 3-over for the tournament. The leader, Georgia State’s Joel Sjoholm, is currently five-under par.

The Irish have faced some tough competition at the tournament, where 10 of the nation’s top 50 teams are competing. Notre Dame has held its own and is in a position to overtake Florida tomorrow, with some strong rounds from the entire team.

“We need to have all five guys in play, making sure they play solidly. It would be an accomplishment to finish above a top-10 team such as Florida in February in warm climate,” Kubinski said.

The tournament finishes today. The Irish do not have another tournament for two weeks, when they travel to California to compete in the USC Collegiate Invitational.