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Men’s Golf: ND finishes strong, falls short

Pete Reisenauer | Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Notre Dame got the score it was hoping for, but it was just not enough.

The Irish finished last in a field of 15 Tuesday at the John Hayt Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Going into Tuesday’s action, Irish coach Jim Kubinski said he hoped the team might be able to put up a score in the 290s. The Irish met that goal, finishing the day with a score of 296, 8-over par. The final-round score was an improvement on the 301 they shot Monday.

Kubinski thought the score might give his team a chance to climb out of eighth place. The coach hoped to catch Florida, one of the top teams in the tournament. But the Gators shot their best score of the event, 288 – a tournament-best for the day.

Meanwhile, no team could keep up with No. 4 Alabama, who won the tournament by four strokes over No. 2 UCLA. The two teams were the favorites coming into a highly competitive weekend with 10 of the top 50 teams in the nation.

No. 5 Charlotte was the biggest disappointment of the tournament, finishing in fifth place, 16 strokes out of the lead. Host North Florida ended the final round at 13-over par and took third place overall in the tournament.

The winner on the individual side of the tournament was Georgia State’s Joel Sjoholm, who led his team to a ninth-place finish.

The tournament also featured some solid individual performances by the Irish.

Sophomore Doug Fortner finished the tournament with a combined score of 224, which left him in a tie for 29th. Fortner’s score was 8-over par on the weekend, but was still impressive considering only six players finished below par for the weekend. Irish captain and No. 1 golfer Josh Sandman finished in a tie with Fortner.

The par-72, 6,895-yard Sawgrass Country Club is considered one of the hardest courses on the college tour.

The tournament allowed the Irish to shake off some of the rust that has built up over the long break since the fall season. The team improved its score every day of the tournament.

The Irish will be in action again March 3-4 at the USC Collegiate Invitational in Westlake Village, Calif.