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Men’s Golf: ND struggles in first meet

Michael Blasco | Wednesday, September 10, 2008

After solid summer seasons from several of its golfers and a roaring tour through Ireland early last month, Notre Dame had high hopes for its fall season opener at the USF Olympic Intercollegiate Invitational at the Olympic Club in Daly City, Calif., just outside San Francisco.

The Irish were unable to recover from two mediocre opening rounds, however, and finished the tournament in 10th place in a field of 15, shooting 37-over par (889).

No. 45 California (861, 9-over par) cruised to a first-place finish on the back of a 3-under par second round 281, the lowest round of the tournament by four strokes. Cal’s Michael Jensen and Colorado’s Derek Tolan shared medalist honors, each finishing the tournament with even par 213s.

Colorado finished eight strokes behind Cal to earn second-place honors, while No. 27 UAB, which held second place comfortably for most of the tournament, slipped to third after shooting a 294 in its final round.

Xavier placed fourth and No. 43 Oregon State and San Diego finished tied for fifth to round out the leaders.

Despite the poor showing, Notre Dame coach Jim Kubinski reiterated the team’s mission of playing challenging opponents and courses throughout the season.

“Our philosophy is to play the best teams on the best courses and there’s no finer example of this than this week,” Kubinski said.

Sophomore Tyler Hock led the Irish in scoring, shooting 72-73-73 to end up with a 5-over 218, good enough for 16th overall. After an erratic opening round in which he collected four bogies, four birdies and a double bogey, Hock sailed through the final two rounds, scattering six more bogies and three birdies.

Sophomore Jeff Chen placed 32nd with a 9-over 222 (74-76-72). Junior Doug Fortner joined sophomore Connor Alan-Lee at 46th place overall, with each shooting 13-over 226s (77-76-73and 78-74-74, respectively).

After becoming the first Notre Dame golfer since 1973 to reach match play at the U.S. Amateur this summer, junior Carlos Santos-Ocampo finished last among the Irish with a 63rd place finish. Santos-Ocampo began the tournament with a respectable 4-over 75 but shot only one hole under par in his final two rounds (79-77) to finish with a 231.

Kubinski pointed out the squad’s youth and was still confident in his inexperienced team’s potential.

“As with any sport, you’re not sure exactly what you have until you begin to compete,” Kubinski said. “I like our young group, though. They’ve shown signs already of being a special group. We’re excited to get started and will just try to keep improving throughout the season.”

The Notre Dame B Team will try its hand this Friday and Saturday at the Rutgers Invitational at the Rutgers Golf Course in Piscataway, N.J.